I’m an Active Teacher/Professor. Period.

--Originally published at CAROLINA R BUITRAGO

It’s weird how lately I have felt my teaching style attacked. Indirectly, of course, and not by students, of course.

I’m planning my new course, “Pedagogy and Second Language Acquisition”, and reading through the course content, I came across an article called “a letter to my freshmen students”. Even though, the article’s intention is good: make freshmen aware of the difference between high-school and college, fine, it also makes the case for the I-won’t-change-my-ways-just-because-students-are-bored type of professor. He actually mentions he is not paid to make sure students learn, that he’d actually be paid even if they don’t learn. I see his point, but I digress. And he goes on saying that because these uninterested students refuse to work unless they are entertained, flipped learning is a buzzword favoring activity over the boring lecture. True. His problem with flipped learning is that he thinks listening skills developed by lecture listening are disregarded.

Well, I have heard it a couple of times now. It is not only in that article. “I’m not here to entertain students”, a friend said. “They have to learn to listen to lectures”, said another. “Oh, no, I’m not going to have them jump up and down, this is not kindergarten”, said another teacher friend. And my favorite, “they can’t have fun, this is an academic program”… all of these comments have been responses to my enthusiastic sharing of x or y flipped learning reading. So, why does it have to be like that?

I’m not in the classroom to entertain students, that’s true. But also, I’m not there to bore them to death and to give them the indirect message that teaching/learning are painful, horrible endeavors. Teaching and learning are the most life-changing activities for me, and for that reason, and perhaps because of my own learning style, I’m all about active learning. Students are not expecting clowns, but either tyrants.

I have also read it everywhere, we can’t teach 21st century students with old, boring ways. We just have to accept that. We can’t tie them up to the chair and have them “really listen”, nope. Not in my class. They will have plenty of classes with boring teachers who will help them with their “listening skills”. In my class, they’ll have to think, to act, to move, to breathe, to create, to apply, to select, to work, to solve, to ressolve … they’ll have to learn by doing.

They’ll listen to me, sure, in small group work, in writing conferences, in videos, in podcasts… but even though the author of the article for freshmen mocks it, I have to and will be the “guide on the side”, not the “sage on the stage”. Not because it is a trend, or because I want to be on the hype of flipped learning, but because I believe learning is active, and because me, as a learner, will just jump of a bridge if I had to go through 8 hours of daily lectures ever again.

Learning is active! Period.

Foreign fellows working in our training sessions

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