Please Practice What You Teach

I’m a university student. I’m halfway through my fourth year of university class, tutorials, and of course – lectures.

I’ve had some amazing lecturers and tutors over the last few years. People who are passionate about learning, about helping us become the best teachers we can be. They want to inspire us with their passion, and teach us all the things we need to know to help students learn – and to help students love learning. To those lecturers and tutors, I want to say thank you.

However. There are the times where I am struggling through lectures and enduring through tutorials. There are the times when the person up the front of the room is speaking about ‘best practice’ for teaching – yet is reading off a PowerPoint slide. There are the times when the juxtaposition of the situation makes me want to either laugh out loud or cry in frustration.

Dear Education lecturer, teacher of teaching, please won’t you practice what you teach? I know you know how to engage a classroom, how to make content interesting and activities useful. I know you believe that each learner is unique and that a good lesson has multiple ways of engaging a range of learning types. I know you would be horrified if you walked in my classroom in five years and saw worksheets and PowerPoint slides and students copying off the board. So why do you continue with these methods that we know don’t work?

Is it because we’re adult students? I’m sure you know that doesn’t mean that knowing comes easily to us. In fact, it means there’s a whole cloud of other priorities that compete for our attention. Then throw into the mix that Education degrees have a higher than usual percentage of mature age students, and there’s even more barriers being thrown up. Changing classrooms, new technologies, bad associations with learning and teachers, preconceived notions from previous professions – plus, it’s possible your students have just been out of the practice of learning for a very long time.

Please, lecturer, won’t you listen to my plea? I know it will take more effort, more time. Good teaching always does. But just as you expect the best from us, could you also expect the best FOR us? Could you make your lectures interesting, dynamic, with examples that connect with us and clear explanations that help us? Rather than so much time devoted to complicated assessment pieces we’re not sure even you understand, could you focus on helping us see the value of the information you are presenting, with motivations beyond the end of semester exam?

Maybe I am an idealist – well, I know I am. But I feel these classes could be so much better. We as students could be so much better – but only if you show us how to be. Please, dear lecturer – lead by example. Be the teacher you want us to emulate. Won’t you please practice what you teach?

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