“Don’t Lecture Me”

Earlier this month I attended a hands-on workshop at The University of Vermont on Experiential Group Facilitation and Teaching.  My visit to UVM inspired me to reflect more deeply on the influence of one of its most famous alumni – philosopher and progressive educator, John Dewey.  Dewey was a proponent of student-centered, experiential education and concluded that “education is life itself”.  His educational theories, developed in the early 20th century, remain a force in the transformation of teaching and learning that educators are striving for in our 21st century schools.

Here are two examples of his enduring influence:

  • Jen Stanchfield whose workshop I attended at UVM offered participants an array of tools and strategies to facilitate learning in the classroom setting as well as in professional development and corporate settings.  Aligned with Dewey’s hands-on approach to learning and supported by the latest neuroscience research, the creative techniques that Jennifer introduced inspired engagement, creativity and meaningful dialogue and reflection among participants – all essential components of deep learning.
  • I’ve been recommending a video entitled “Don’t Lecture Me” by Harvard Professor Eric Mazur to anyone who is interested in transforming teaching and learning and encourage you to do the same.  This undergraduate Introductory Applied Physics course is intentionally designed to facilitate peer instruction where students apply their learning to real-life problem-solving and where assessment is authentic and collaborative.  This example serves as a great model for teachers from elementary right through to post-secondary – Dewey would be so proud!

Educators around the world continue to build on John Dewey’s philosophy and execute on the research that continues today about how people learn best.  Please share other unique and exceptional examples with me here.

p.s. When you have some time, check out this powerful presentation by Eric Mazur on “Assessment: The Silent Killer of Learning”