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06/17/2012

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Moti Mizrahi

Hi Marcus,
Thanks for sharing these great tips. Regarding #4, I agree with you that "the sage on the stage" approach is not a particularly effective teaching method. But I have been wondering why that is the case (especially when I see how popular the courses of the likes of Shelly Kagan and Michael Sandel are). If you don't mind, maybe I will do a follow-up post on this question.

Marcus Arvan

I'd love to see a follow-up post on that! Fwiw, here are a couple of thoughts. I think students like to be entertained, and that this liking leads people to become Sages on Stage. But entertainment and real education are two different things. Being a real educator involves a great deal of risk. It involves doing things that students don't like -- things like having *them* do work in the classroom, and giving them bad grades for poor work. In my experience, in the end -- oftentimes only after the semester is long over -- most students cherish this sort of treatment more than sagely entertainment. They see that they have learned important things, and we're not merely entertained. Btw, I don't mean to derogate Sandel or Kagan in the slightest (I've never seen either of them teach!). I think it's fine to make the classroom an entertaining place. I just think it's crucial to have students be active participants (something I've heard second-hand that Sandel does very well).

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