The Center for Learning and Teaching Newsletter Teaching News

Author's Department

Center for Learning and Teaching (CLT)

Document Type

News Article

Publication Title

New Chalk Talk

Publication Date



Conventionally teaching takes place by reference to “faculty-centered instruction in the oral tradition” which involves the delivery of content via lectures. This is invariably also accompanied by an emphasis on an instructional discourse which features an almost sacred approach to “content” and thus a preponderance of “listening is learning” as the preferred methodology for teaching. (Oblinger and Rush 1997) In this respect and during the last few decades such conventional teaching methodologies which presume “telling is teaching and listening is learning” have had to face the problem of how to cope with the explosion of “new knowledge” emerging daily from the academy. Thus, given the preferred teaching methodology, it is not surprising that the invariable response of most faculty to the increasing quantities of knowledge and the collateral compression in the half-life of prior knowledge is to cram larger amounts of the “sacred content” into lectures. (Paul and Elder 2001; Spence 2001) This in turn has generated an almost universal response from students who are confronted with an onslaught of so-called “sacred knowledge”. Students have become ever more proficient at memorizing and cramming information for the purpose of coping with assessments and the equally “sacred grade”, but with little or no regard to ability to thinking (critical or otherwise), how to apply such knowledge or its significance. Although such students may achieve higher grades, however, few if any, develop critical thinking or for that matter any of the other skills that are so necessary in their future professional careers or for their life as citizens