Friday, 9 September 2011


The first lecture must be tough.  Now, I'm not getting this from any of my instructors showing an ounce of nervousness, despite the fact that more than one of my past teachers has confided that his or her first class nerves lasted at least 15 minutes.  My hint came from the format of most of these introductory classes.  Despite some differences in arrangement and time allotted to the lecture, the format for almost every class was the same.  Some instructors made some genuine efforts to break from the standard format and some apologized for the lecture-heavy nature of the first class but overall:

The format seems to be:
1)  an introduction of the course leader including her or his qualifications
2)  the distribution of a syllabus along with a review of of the contents typically highlighting major assignments
3)  some form of icebreaker for attendance purposes including name, how you got to this class (previous university, teachables) and some other personal details (something interesting about yourself or past experiences that relate to the given class)
or 3a)  2 truths and a lie
4)  depending on the length of 2, a short introductory lecture
4a)  possibly some initial discussion questions on the nature of the class
5)  confirmations of required readings for the next class

The time efficient part of me wants to scream out, "give me the syllabus ahead of time so that I can review it before class and come with appropriate questions."  Then my realistic side reminds me that by misreading my timetable I sat through 3/4 of a special ed class (before realizing this) instead of my scheduled law class ... ie my preparation skills leave a bit to be desired so expecting a thorough pre-reading of the syllabus is probably unrealistic.  I'll likely stop beating myself up shortly over this oversight, but for now I still shake my head in disbelief.

I think that the piece of this standard introduction that I'd like to change the most is part 3.  I'd much rather take the Little Prince's approach as opposed to the standard approach.  I realize that facts are easier to convey, but where people did their undergrad work and what their teacheables are ... well these kind of details really don't tell me too much about my classmates.  I'd much rather hear answers to a question like "what are the most important things about you that you'd like others to know?"  Knowing that my subjects are math and history or that I did my undergrad work at Waterloo and Brock tells you so little about me - you learn far more about me through my link to chapter 4 than most of these intros could ever convey.  2 Truths comes closer, but with the audience focusing on which is the lie, it's tough to remember the truths.  And given that many truths are chosen to deceive or cite very small details of a person's life ... I'd be hard pressed to recall five of the truths that I heard and I'm not sure that most of the truths that I recall go beyond the 'facts and figures' type of information that the pilot cautions against.  I'm not naive enough to believe that we should still be able to see the 'sheep in a box,' but I'm hoping to find a way to try to a little harder.

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