The other night, I spoke at the University of Nevada. I enjoyed the opportunity to speak to students interested in the study of Aging, perhaps as a specialty to go into. It was a good-sized audience, and they were attentive to me and the other two speakers.
I have always believed and taught that spontaneous questions and possible dialogue were always preferable to the traditional lecture where the teacher talks and the students listen. Yet, where I would have loved to have been interrupted with comments and questions by the attendees, they sat quietly, listening and presumably taking notes as they usually do in the classroom.
It is the way it is, but why? Are notes more important than spontaneous dialogue? When I began my workshops, there were many times I prepared for them loaded with what I thought were exciting ways to start the meetings. Yet, over time I would receive calls and letters asking if they, the staff, could begin the session.
“Of course,” was my immediate response. Not only did they start the meetings, but they often continued throughout the whole workshop.
Dialogue between people is the superior way of teaching. But it is rare in most classrooms, beginning in pre-school and beyond. What the teacher has to say is essential, but Socrates showed us that you could speak, ask questions, allow for answers, and be in “dialogue” as both a speaker and a listener. It is the best of all ways to teach and learn and was the practice in my classrooms and throughout my three entirely different careers.
To speak is a gift—To listen even better—Dialogue is best