The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. – Dorothy Parker
I was recently asked to teach a class on entrepreneurship as part of an Economic Development Basic Course for those seeking national certification. Like any responsible teacher, I prepared my presentation over the weeks leading up to the class and arrived ready to go through my entire outline – imparting all kinds of wisdom to these future economic development leaders.
However, as I began the presentation, hands immediately shot into the air. I called on those few students, answered their questions and turned back to my outline. But, more hands went up and it soon became clear that my two hour presentation was turning into two hours of Q&A instead. I certainly didn’t mind, but it made me wonder what was going on?
I settled on the fact that we are living in a participatory culture. These students had sat through lecture after lecture, presentation after presentation in the days leading up to my class and they were tired of being taught at. They wanted to participate.
These are mostly students who have grown up with access to the internet and the knowledge of the world in their hands all the time. They are well-versed in social media, which allows them to interact with each other and the world in real-time. As a result, today’s learning styles have changed. People want a conversation. They want to learn from each other. They want to be validated in what they believe.
Think back to the movie: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The monotone, “Bueller, Bueller, Bueller,” style of teaching isn’t going to cut it anymore, which means it is harder than ever to be a great teacher today. If you don’t keep students engaged at every moment, they’ll turn to their iPhones for entertainment or they’ll just get up and walk out of your classroom.
In today’s world of adult education, nobody has time for boring. As leaders and teachers, we have to allow others to participate with us. We have to acknowledge the thoughts and ideas of others. And we have to go above and beyond to foster great back and forth communication.
Question: What’s your preferred learning style? Does it match up with today’s trend toward interactivity and engagement?