#Teaching, #Learning and Revisiting the Oral Tradition

Here is an effective technique for introducing verbal dialog into the teaching-learning experience – taking it to a level beyond what might be considered standard or “normal” in today’s educational practices.

Teaching-Learning-and-Revisiting-the-Oral-Tradition-by-John-MalingThe importance of verbal-monologue in higher learning is again and again proven by the continuing academic tradition of the oral exam and oral defense of thesis. History gives strong support for the role of the oral tradition in teaching and learning, The oral tradition in passing knowledge from generation to generation reaches back into the dim past of human history, before language was written, before texts and manuscripts even existed. The great cultures and civilizations of the ancient world mastered the written word, but the vast majority of the peoples of those times were illiterate and depended upon the verbal-oral tradition for communication and preservation of ideas.

I have survived several oral examinations in subjects necessary in the earning of a Ph.D. in physics, and as a teacher of science, physics and engineering, and chairman of a science and engineering department, oral presentation was a professional necessity and tradition. Nothing fixes knowledge of a subject better than the threat a three to five day regimen of lectures on that subject to dozens of students, month after month and year after year. But those students were in the main engaged in a relatively passive form on learning – listening, taking notes and for some occasional questions of the lecturer. Dialog between professor-teacher and student can be difficult. I have witnessed a forceful and, in my opinion, counterproductive refusals by one of my faculty to entertain questions until the end of his lecture.

Share your thoughts below. What experiences have you had in the classroom with verbal dialogue and discussions?

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