Pedagogy Circle

The Center for Faculty Excellence and the Department of History & Philosophy co-sponsor a Pedagogy Circle meeting each semester.

The purpose of this faculty-driven forum is to encourage discussion about the more humanistic issues at stake in the contemporary classroom: why facts matter, how to balance democracy with decorum, fair grading in the humanities, enforcing attendance, etc.

It is neither a faculty club, nor a teaching clinic. Nevertheless, the hope is that the Pedagogy Circle will foster faculty collegiality. This forum is intended to encourage faculty discussions on what they love most—issues and problems relevant to their teaching practices.

Participants bring valuable insights and input to these meetings, but also benefit through shared teaching tips, etc. This forum is open to all faculty (including LTLs and CLs)—especially in-coming faculty who are new to teaching.

Upcoming Pedagogy Circle Meeting

Spring 2020 Pedagogy Circle Meeting
Why Subject Matter Mastery matters – does in-class discussion help or hurt?
March 12, 2020
3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
CLO 239 (Hammond) or SWRZ 142 (Westville)
Register to Attend

At this meeting we expect to discuss if in-class discussion is happening at the expense of explanation – thus hurting (instead of helping) subject-matter mastery. While not its sole purpose, should subject-matter mastery be a prime goal of higher education?

Without it, does the university become redundant – leaving us with no more than self-education and informal intellectual gatherings? Professional experts plays a vital role in modern society. Yet, expertise is impossible without subject-matter mastery.

In the twenty-first century, academic text-mastery faces two crises – the first in reading-comprehension, and the second in critical thinking. To resolve these crises, perhaps the greatest, most powerful pedagogical tool is the Discussion.

By raising probing questions and seeking to answer them – students are supposed to gain subject-mastery, through active learning practices. A second indispensable tool is the Explanation, which facilitates comprehension and text-mastery by making the subject-matter more accessible.

Yet, given the realities of the twenty-first century classroom, is discussion over rated? Is it too idealistic for our times? Has it become futile before the crisis in reading-comprehension? Have teachers ceased explaining subject-matter to students? Are they substituting the lecture with discussion? Given the reality of limited class time, and the fact that students often do not read or comprehend on their own, is discussion happening at the expense of explanation?

Join us at the Spring 2020 Pedagogy Circle meeting to discuss these questions and share your experiences.

For the pros and cons of in-class discussion and the crisis in reading comprehension, please see these links:

Past Pedagogy Circle Meetings