Podcast #69

In this episode we take a walk through our archive and share some amazing examples of extreme teaching. These include college classes prisons and chapels, incorporating balloons and cotton candy machines into a student project fair, and holding office hours on the radio. If you’re new to the podcast or just want to be inspired by feats of pedagogical daring, you’re going to love this one.

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Show Notes

0:00 Intro

0:35 The craziest funnest teaching exploits we’ve heard about. Teaching is unique, and these are inspirational moments. Seven clips, two big topics. Who’s being taught vs. giving students more responsibility and getting them involved. Extreme contexts and extreme methods. Getting past emaciated, vanilla teaching. And a doozy teaching mistake.

5:13 Extreme Context #1: Doernberg and DiPietro teach neuroscience in a prison. What students got out of the course: forming a new identity. Challenging and respecting students so they will grow. Time management and making sure you’re not overloading students. Making who the students are central to the course.

11:05 Extreme Context #2: Laurie Santos teaching 60 students about sex, evolution, and human nature. A Catholic school girl teaching about penises in a chapel. The pure mechanics of a large class. Keeping the students engaged. Using active learning methods in a traditional lecture hall.

17:48 Extreme Method #1: John Bryan Starr double- or triple-flips his seminar of hand-picked students learning about educational policy. Reading 200 pages, meeting before class, writing a one-page paper, then revising it–all in a single week. Feedback, reflecting, and revising as re-shaping your mental model and focused practice. The literature on learning and “self-explantion” is large, but see, for example:

  • “Self-Explanation and Explanatory Feedback in Games: Individual Diferences, Gameplay, and Learning” by Killingsworth et al, International Journal of Education in Mathematics, Science and Technology, Vol 3, No 3 (July 2015) p. 162-186.

The many forms of flipping, including discussion boards.

25:14 Extreme Teaching Method #1: David Malan’s CS50 (Introduction to Computer Science) runs simultaneously at Yale and Harvard, enrolls 900 students, and uses high production values and a deejay. The end-of-semester project fair: fixing the incentives. Cotton candy machines, a velcro wall–oh and student projects too. Teaching from a well-prepared book of cases and problems. Cf. Ken Bain, What the Best College Teachers Do p 146 et seq. re law professor Derrick Bell at Harvard. Thinking about imaginary cases for a film history course to teach broad principles.

30:48 Extreme Teaching Method #2: Geoff Connors gamifies the medical case study. “What Disease Do I Have?” Why Doug doesn’t use detailed cases. Edward considers gamifying a film history course. Doug and Edward discuss movies. Giving marketing advice to Emily Dickinson.

43:01 Extreme Teaching Method #3. Gerry Jaynes’ students weren’t asking enough questions in his midterm review sessions. So he held office hours on the college radio station–like a call-in show. The 2017 alternatives: discussion boards like Piazza, video office hours. Learning about your students.

48:30 Extreme Teaching Mistake: a classroom demonstration that Yale President Peter Salovey later thought better of. Modeling respect: even avoiding trashing bad filmmakers. Learning from your mistakes.

54:49 Share your extreme teaching choice with us? Laura Gibbs’ metaphor for being less teacher-centered. Three years of learning from this podcast. Doug and Edward sign off.