Photo of Sharon Bacharach
Sharon Bacharach

Instructor
Graduate Center for Jewish Education

I believe lecturing is overrated. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think that many people have some wonderful things to say, myself included, and I have heard some amazing talks. However, I believe the lecture is just the beginning. The real learning in our courses comes in the discussion following the lecture.

The discussion, whether in one large group as the whole class, in small groups, or chavruta, is the most valuable part of class. This is the time when students engage in critical thinking, incorporate information heard in the lecture or reading, share opinions, problem-solve, and learn from each other. An example that comes to mind, is when I recently finished a short lecture about play – what play is and what it is not. I then opened a discussion regarding what we do, as early childhood educators, to aid in children’s play?

This is when it became interesting. Students were able to share with each other the struggles they were having in their schools now that child-initiated play is limited due to the pandemic. One student shared that there was no longer a house area in their classroom since children cannot share materials. Many students shared that there were so many restrictions that free play is a challenge. The students were able to share various ideas with each other to problem solve. The discussion progressed to what actually is play? If children initiate the ideas, what role can adults have and can it still be called play? When does it become an activity? These questions were not easily answered and will continue to be discussed. As the instructor, I held back from giving answers and instead asked thoughtful questions to continue the discussion.

At AJU, we incorporate different pedagogies to enhance students’ learning experiences. All are thoughtful and with the primary objective of how our style of teaching will benefit our students. In our MAEd in Early Childhood Education program, we find it imperative that our students engage in deep thinking regarding early childhood issues and be able to advocate for the little ones in our care and give them a voice.

So how long do we need to lecture? Not so long as to lose our student’s attention, but long enough to spark really meaningful discussions. Then the learning begins.