Thoughts about the Most Used Teaching Strategy in American Schools

Lecture is the teaching strategy used most in American schools. It is most predominate in the upper elementary grades through high school. It might be, in some cases, the only strategy in colleges and universities. Because it is so widely used then it is logical that teachers, new to the profession, will use it because they will teach the way they have been taught.

I believe that lecture can be an appropriate strategy for some students and some teachers some of the time. However, just like group work, team work, cooperative learning and many other teaching strategies it should not be the only teaching strategy in a classroom.

If we think about what we know about how people learn then educators need to consider how, when and where lecture should be used. This is what we know; people learn in a variety of ways, most adults can only listen for 5-10 minutes (now think about middle school and lower), people only remember 20% of what they hear and 30% of what they see, learning must be active and not passive because in the learning process people remember and understand 90% when they are actively engaged

There are 4 Principles that I believe teachers must follow when they prepare and teach a lesson. PRINCIPLE #1 the classroom, the lesson and the teaching must be presented in such a way that there is positive interdependence. The teacher must create an atmosphere of respect for the subject and all who are participating. PRINCIPLE #2 the students must be held individually accountable. No one sleeps in class.  However, students should not be called upon when they do not want to answer or do not know the answer (more on this in another article.) PRINCIPLE #3 all students must be given the opportunity to participate equally. PRINCIPLE #4 there must be the opportunity for students to discuss important concepts and ideas. Teachers must plan for student talk during a lesson but this talking must be effectively managed.

I do not believe lecture as a standalone strategy satisfies what we know about how we learn and does not qualify as meeting the 4 Principles stated above. Teachers must learn and develop other strategies if we are going to have test scores increase and most importantly teach students how to THINK.

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