In an article this past Sunday in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Dan Berrett digests the results of a recent conference at Harvard University about learning and teaching. The article contains several insightful observations, but in one key paragraph of his article, Berrett summarizes:
[Effective pedagogical] approaches . . . demand much more of students and faculty. Students should be made to grapple with the material and receive authentic and explicit practice in thinking like an expert. . . . Faculty . . . need to provide timely and specific feedback, and move beyond lectures in which students can sit passively receiving information. (underlining added)
That is, critical thinking and interaction play a highly significant role in education. Perhaps not surprisingly, this sentiment and a good deal else in Berrett’s report is, to varying degrees, an exercise in higher education’s own remembering and reminding itself of what it has forgotten from the University’s earlier history (Sayers, “The Lost Tools of Learning”; cf. “Reengineering Higher Education”; Woods, “Learning by Way of Conversation”).