If you’re like me, you’re neck-deep in preparation for the new academic year right now. I’m meeting with advisees this morning, and have lab stuff to order and more tweaking of my syllabus to do.
Relax! Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin has an answer for us all. Pop a VHS cassette into the tape player and let that do the teaching for you!
We’ve got the internet — you have so much information available. Why do you have to keep paying different lecturers to teach the same course? You get one solid lecturer and put it up online and have everybody available to that knowledge for a whole lot cheaper? But that doesn’t play very well to tenured professors in the higher education cartel. So again, we need destructive technology for our higher education system,he said.
Johnson added,One of the examples I always used — if you want to teach the Civil War across the country, are you better off having, I don’t know, tens of thousands of history teachers that kind of know the subject, or would you be better off popping in 14 hours of Ken Burns’s Civil War tape and then have those teachers proctor based on that excellent video production already done? You keep duplicating that over all these different subject areas.
Ooooh, I’m in a higher education cartel? I had no idea. I thought it was more of a syndicate, or mob, or gang. It does not surprise me, though, that a Republican wants to destroy our mafia.
His idea of just acting as a proctor for a series of videos intrigues me, though — it sure would be a lot less work than reading all those papers and textbooks, distilling them down into presentations, and trying to draw out students into interacting with you and the material. I use short video segments to illustrate concepts already — but nowadays we go to online digital sources rather than these mysterious “tapes” — but hey, if I could just show videos for the class hour for a couple of weeks, that would definitely take a load off my back.
Although…I did once have a class that was taught that way, back in junior high school. It was our health course, “taught” by the PE coach, who basically knew nothing about the subject, but could run a film strip or an 8mm projector (Mr Johnson is truly with it — he could have recommended even older technologies) just fine. The thing is, it was a terrible, crappy course, and I learned nothing, other than that the instructor was an ignorant dumbass.
But maybe the technology is greatly improved. Burns’ series is well done, and students would learn some things from it.
Is there also a video series that teaches how to compare and assess multiple sources? I wouldn’t want students to think there is only one true story about the Civil War.
Is there a video for every possible question my students might ask? You never know what might pop into their heads, and the instructor has to be prepared to answer…or at least, explain how to find the answer.
When a student shows up at my office with a question about some complicated figure in a paper, is there a tape I can show them? I hate just sitting there, looking blank, and being able to shuffle through a gigantic stack of tapes at least gives me something useful to do.
I mentioned I’m have an advising meeting soon. Is there tape for that?
Currently, Ron Johnson is stuck in a difficult re-election campaign. Does he have a tape that explains how to win? Maybe he should sit down and watch it a couple of times.
While he’s doing that, every citizen in his electorate who knows anything about teaching — which definitely does not include Ron Johnson — will be voting for Russ Feingold, so at least he’s made that decision even easier.