Riddle Me This

By Emily Foote

Two classrooms are in the same building. For nearly 80 minutes, the first class stays quiet and orderly as the instructor speaks from the podium. The second class is chaotic. The instructor runs up and down the aisle. She “peppers students with questions”, she “presses them to explain and expand on their answers”, and she asks them to “solve questions in small groups.” Riddle One: Which classroom yields learning results that translate into employable skills? Answer: Classroom #2. Riddle Two: Why don’t more college professors teach like the instructor in classroom #2? Answer: Professors are rarely taught how to teach. In a recent NYT article, Richard Perez-Pena, explores the unraveling of an assumption that has defined higher education for decades: if you are a subject matter expert, then you’ll be a good teacher of that subject.


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