Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lectures

In "The Lecture Works, and It Always Has," Collin Garbarino, a history professor, expresses his annoyance with critics of a time-tested educational tool:
It’s not the lecture; it’s the lecturers. .... Why don’t students develop a passion for the material? Probably their teachers don’t demonstrate a passion. Curiosity and excitement are contagious, even in a lecture.

Of course most bad lecturers aren’t lazy or disengaged. They just haven’t been taught what a good lecture looks like. They do not understand fundamental principles of rhetoric and public speaking. Some teachers know what a good lecture looks like, but they do not have the time or energy to actually create a good lecture. .... Excellent lectures take time. Sometimes there’s just no time.

Can we please stop blaming the lecture? I’m the first to admit that not all lectures are good. But that’s true of all media. Not all books are good. Not all blog posts are good. Probably most books published last year were not worth reading. Certainly most blog posts written last year were not worth reading. Even though most lectures might be bad, it doesn’t mean that the lecture itself is to blame. For most content areas, the lecture remains the best medium for educating a large group. .... [more]
And the best method for small groups, Garbarino agrees, is the seminar/discussion group, assuming the students know enough to question and discuss — they have done the reading.

It seems to me that the observations above apply equally to sermons. Sermons are essentially lectures. If they are boring, the problem is probably the preacher.