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【时尚英语档案】给我讲课吧,真的

 3gzylon 2015-12-19
2015-11-04 13:37:57 来源:参考消息网 责任编辑:宋宇

核心提示:格林内尔学院古典研究系主任、讲课很受欢迎的莫内萨·卡明斯告诉笔者,在人文学科,讲课“非常重视各个事实之间的联系。它不是在背诵事实,而是在组织论据”。

Lecture Me. Really.

给我讲课吧,真的

Before the semester began earlier this fall, I went to check out the classroom where I would be teaching an introductory American history course. Like most classrooms at my university, this one featured lots of helpful gadgets: a computer console linked to an audiovisual system, a projector screen that deploys at the touch of a button and USB ports galore. But one thing was missing. The piece of technology that I really needed is centuries old: a simple wooden lectern to hold my lecture notes. I managed to obtain one, but it took a week of emails and phone calls.

在今年秋天本学期开始前,我去检查了一下我将讲授美国史入门课程的教室。像我所在大学里的大多数教室一样,这个教室里有许多有用的装置:与视听系统连接的电脑控制台、按一下按钮就能展开的投影幕,大量USB端口。但是缺一样东西。我真正需要的那项技术已有几百年的历史了:一个简单的木制讲台,能放我的讲义就行。我设法弄到了一个,但发电子邮件和打电话花了我一周的时间。

Perhaps my request was unusual. Isn't the old-fashioned lecture on the way out? A 2014 study showed that test scores in science and math courses improved after professors replaced lecture time with “active learning” methods like group work — prompting Eric Mazur, a Harvard physicist who has long campaigned against the lecture format, to declare that “it's almost unethical to be lecturing.”

也许我的要求非同寻常。老式的授课方式不是已经过时了吗?2014年进行的一项研究显示,在教授们以小组作业之类的“主动学习”法取代授课时间后,学生们的自然科学和数学考试成绩有所提高——这促使长期以来一直反对演讲式授课的哈佛大学物理学家埃里克·梅热宣称“喋喋不休地讲课简直不道德”。

Today's vogue for active learning is nothing new. In 1852, John Henry Newman wrote in “The Idea of a University” that true learning “consists, not merely in the passive reception into the mind of a number of ideas hitherto unknown to it, but in the mind's energetic and simultaneous action upon and towards and among those new ideas.” The lecture course, too, has always had skeptics. In his 1869 inaugural address as president of Harvard University, Charles Eliot warned that “the lecturer pumps laboriously into sieves. The water may be wholesome, but it runs through.”

目前流行的主动学习并不是什么新鲜事。1852年,约翰·亨利·纽曼在《大学的理想》一书中写到,真正的学习“不仅仅是被动地将一堆原来不知道的观念都接纳到脑子里,同时也是针对和围绕这些观念积极开动脑筋”。讲课课程也一直有怀疑者。1869年,哈佛大学校长查尔斯·埃利奥特在发表就职演说时警告说:“演讲者辛勤地往筛子里倒水,水也许有益,但都从筛孔里流走了。”

Eliot was a chemist, so perhaps we should take his criticisms with a grain of salt. In the humanities, a good lecture class does just what Newman said: It keeps students' minds in energetic and simultaneous action. And it teaches a rare skill in our smartphone-app-addled culture: the art of attention, the crucial first step in the “critical thinking” that educational theorists prize.

埃利奥特是一位化学家,所以,对于他的批评,我们或许应该持保留态度。在人文学科,一堂好的讲课达到的正是纽曼当年所说的效果:使学生们积极开动脑筋。它还能教授一种如今在被手机应用败坏的风气中罕有的技能:全神贯注。全神贯注是教育理论家所重视的“批判性思维”至关重要的第一步。  

Those who want to abolish the lecture course do not understand what a lecture is. A lecture is not the declamation of an encyclopedia article. In the humanities, a lecture “places a premium on the connections between individual facts,” Monessa Cummins, the chairwoman of the classics department and a popular lecturer at Grinnell College, told me. “It is not a recitation of facts, but the building of an argument.”

希望废除讲课课程的人并不了解讲课到底是什么。讲课并不是朗诵百科全书上的文章。格林内尔学院古典研究系主任、讲课很受欢迎的莫内萨·卡明斯告诉笔者,在人文学科,讲课“非常重视各个事实之间的联系。它不是在背诵事实,而是在组织论据”。

Absorbing a long, complex argument is hard work, requiring students to synthesize, organize and react as they listen. In our time, when any reading assignment longer than a Facebook post seems ponderous, students have little experience doing this. Some research suggests that minority and low-income students struggle even more. But if we abandon the lecture format because students may find it difficult, we do them a disservice. Moreover, we capitulate to the worst features of the customer-service mentality that has seeped into the university from the business world. The solution, instead, is to teach those students how to gain all a great lecture course has to give them.

理解说理性长篇大论颇费脑筋,要求学生们在听讲时进行综合、组织并做出反应。在凡是长度超过脸书上一条帖子的阅读作业都显得冗长乏味的当今时代,学生们这样做的经验很少。一些研究显示,来自少数族裔和低收入家庭的学生面临的困难更多。但是,如果我们因为学生们也许会发现很难而放弃讲课课程,那我们就是在害他们。此外,我们还是在“屈从于”从商业社会渗入到大学里的客服心态的最糟糕特点。解决办法应当是教会这些学生如何获得一门精彩讲课课程能提供给他们的所有东西。

Listening continuously and taking notes for an hour is an unusual cognitive experience for most young people. Professors should embrace — and even advertise — lecture courses as an exercise in mindfulness and attention building, a mental workout that counteracts the junk food of nonstop social media. More and more of my colleagues are banning the use of laptops in their classrooms. They say that despite initial grumbling, students usually praise the policy by the end of the semester. 

对大多数年轻人而言,持续一小时听讲并记笔记是一种非同寻常的认知体验。教授们应该欣然接受甚至宣传讲课课程,指出它们是提高学生注意力、使他们专心致志的一种训练,是可以抵消像食用垃圾食品一样没完没了地接触社交媒体所带来危害的心智锻炼。在笔者的同事中,越来越多的人开始禁止在教室里使用笔记本电脑。他们表示,学生们起初颇有怨言,但在学期末通常都会称赞这项规定。(金进龙译自美国《纽约时报》10月18日文章)

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