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Oct 1
Teaching Groups Doesn't Work - Seth Godin Agrees
I agree with Seth Godin that teaching to a group is difficult, maybe impossible:
"Speech is both linear and unpaceable. You can’t skip around and you can’t speed it up. When the speaker covers something you know, you are bored. When he quickly covers something you don’t understand, you are lost."
However, I would argue that most presentations to large groups (outside of the school setting) aren't so much about teaching, but about either:
  • piquing someone's interest so that they are spurred to find out more
  • encouraging people to hire you, your company or someone like you to do what you are talking about.
Even in a school lecture classes, the most a teacher or presenter can hope for is for something they say to spark an interest that encourage the listener to find out more - either by listening more attentively, or by self-education.

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Seth has a provocative point but I am not so sure he is right.

Lost listeners, for example, are not always such a bad thing - you are not really ready to learn till your sufficiently confused. Being lost can have a positive effect on a learner. It can cause one to focus their attention all the more on what is being said.

Plus, teaching as Seth portrays it is only one channel of learning. It is not meant to stand on all fours. Would any of us say we learned everything we needed to know about a given subject only via a class lecture of some sort?

Maybe Seth would benefit from reviewing how the ancient Greeks thought about speech in terms of logos, ethos and pathos. These three elements remain powerful when combined with skill in any presentation.

As always Seth has stirred the pot pretty well, and I like your expansion on his posting.

This is my first visit to your blog. Thanks for extending such good conversations!

Welcome, Michael and thank you for bringing up a very interesting point; one I need to think about some more.

Your idea points out the vital idea that not everybody is ready to learn the same thing at the same time - learning is very individual.

You've also encouraged me to pick up some books at the library - I've some knowledge with the basics of classical logic, but only familiar in passing with the three elements you mention. Sounds like a good winter project to get me started at least.

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