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How Entertaining Does Education Need to Be?

05 Mar

Taking a class and watching Scandal aren’t the same thing

She’d be awake if her classes were more fun.
[ Photo by Photick/Sigrid Olsson/Thinkstock ]

By John Warner

I’m wondering how “entertaining” my classes should be.

On the one hand, being entertained is a good thing. If we are entertained, we are enjoying ourselves, and making class enjoyable probably goes a long way toward getting students to show up.

I do OK on this front. The end-of-semester evaluations seem to say so. RateMyProfessor, for what that’s worth, backs them up.

The bar for being an “entertaining” teacher is actually pretty low. Once in the room, the audience is captive. Students expect boredom, so if there’s even a glimmer of mirth, the appreciation is outsized.

As I think about this, though, I realize there are different kinds of entertainment, or perhaps that there’s a difference between entertainment and engagement.

My wife and I have been binge-watching Scandal. Set in Washington, D.C., it tells the story of a political fixer played by Kerry Washington. It’s a procedural mixed with a conspiracy thriller, mixed with melodrama that would make a daytime soap opera blush. It’s is frequently laugh-out-loud ridiculous, and the show’s relationship with verisimilitude is like Donald Trump’s relationship with his hair. It resembles something real, but it isn’t fooling anybody.

[ Full article available at Slate: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/inside_higher_ed/2014/03/entertainment_in_education_moocs_compete_with_traditional_classrooms_to.html ]

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Posted by on March 5, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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