Lectures are the lazy person’s approach to education

Roger Schank is a famous computer science professor. His take on lectures is just brilliant:

We still have lectures for one main reason. They are the lazy person’s approach to education. Both lectures and listeners agree that neither of them wants to do much work. Real work, and real doing, and real conversation, is all that matters for learning, but education is really not about learning.

3 thoughts on “Lectures are the lazy person’s approach to education”

  1. This is so true.

    At the high school level (and probably at university, too), the prevalence of lecturing is also fuelled by the false sense of progress linked to “covering” all of the necessary curriculum within the time allotted for the course. There is a lot of pressure on teachers and professors to “cover” everything, even at the expense of not exploring important concepts as deeply as they should be, or eliding over less common cases.

    If education were actually about learning, we wouldn’t care so much about “covering” the curriculum and instead work to instil the skills in students needed to let them plug any gaps left over after the course is finished on their own.

  2. It’s probably better to have like 10…15 minutes of ‘lecture’ then do excercise, discuss, etc… and repeat.
    But this involves more work that preparing standard 90 minute-long lecture (without any interaction with students)

  3. Lectures have an interactive part and a non-interactive part. Interactive: when questions are asked (both directions). Non-interactive: when professors lecture.

    IMHO, the standard approach should be: lectures on multimedia material, like coursera and similar approaches. Then some exercises, to check the lessons have been learned, and time to ask (collectively, like in a classroom, or a forum) the questions from the exercises *and* (most important and rarely done) the answers once the exercises have been done.

    In CS this translates to code review, also (specially) of code that works. To make it more maintainable, readable, robust, efficient, etc.

    This is very rare, yet (IMHO!) very useful and necessary.

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