Friday, December 22, 2006

What to cut?

The powers-that-be have left us with only 12 weeks of classes this term, rather than the usual 13. This is probably due more to the dates that various holidays fall on, rather than to a fiendish scheme by the bean-counters to give the sudents 10% fewer classes for their tuition dollars. But it means that I need to cut 10% of the content from my classes.

I actually want to cut more than that, because I'm hoping to have students spending more of their class time thinking and less time than copying down things I tell them. This means I need to come up with thought-provoking classroom problems and activities, but also means I need to eliminate even more of the 'lecture style' content.

Cutting content is hard. What criteria should I use to decide what students don't really need to know about? Which of the lovely PowerPoint slides I slaved over last year should I consign to the trash? Should I cut the cool new frontiers of science stuff, or some of the classic concepts? Should I just not bother to teach the parts that everyone forgets right after the exam? Do I cut the hardest concepts, or the time I spend reminding students of the basic principles?

To make this even harder, I want to include more about ecological sustainability this year. I fear that this means some genetics will have to go.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Cutting material may seem advantageous to students who procure knowledge through their own efforts and imagination. I'm not trying to say that the less material lectured would drive us to become better thinking individuals. But the material lectured should serve us the tools for, not only for the process of our coursework, but also for particular findings within our everyday life. Personally, I would love to see what I can conjure with in response to the snowflake question you mentioned regarding natural selection.

Either way, let's have fun while we're at it. Cheers.