Recommendation: Multiple Perspective Teaching

Sometimes, students remark that one of their teachers is too one-sided. That:

– their lectures all end up supporting one side of an issue,

– class discussion is only welcoming to certain viewpoints, and

– students who agree with the teacher are graded more favourably than those who don’t

But regardless of whether this is the case or not – and thankfully, it’s not… most teachers do try their best at lecturing and grading objectively – there is a lot of potential in having 2 teachers, rather than 1, in the class at the same time. For instance, teachers can play off each other, their ideas can grow and develop. Have you been to a luncheon which mainly consisted of teachers? It’s amazing to see what kind of intellectual discussions can ensue. Seeing teachers discuss topics at hand with other “experts” really gets them going.

So that’s my general recommendation here: have some classes be team taught by 2 teachers. This is actually very commonplace in the world of facilitation, where it’s known as co-facilitation. But for education, we need to break down the assumption that “there can only be 1 teacher in the classroom at any time.”

Recommendation 1: The Debate Method

One way we can do this is if we put 2 teachers with very different views to teach the course together. For instance, if this

was a class about abortion, then you would have one very pro-choice teacher, and one very

pro-life teacher. During the lectures, they would go back and forth, playing off each other, and providing points and counter-points. Of course, they wouldn’t be debating all the time. Let’s say about 30%. The rest of the time, they would be working together to present the material, theories, case studies, and so forth. And of course, they can show how each side of the debate actually agrees on some fundamental assumptions. It’s just having these multiple perspectives that would be refreshing for the teachers and the students.

Recommendation 2: The Multidisciplinary Method

For this idea, instead of having teachers with different points of view, why don’t we have teachers with different intellectual backgrounds teach together? The course would cover one theme, but from 2 different disciplines.

For instance, a course about social media can have 1 teacher with a background in sociology / symbolic interactionism, and another with a background in computer programming / website design. The material can weave in and out of the theories, and make connections between their research.

 

Note: Currently, there are a few courses (at the university level only) where there are multiple teachers for the same sections. But usually they are never in the classroom at the same time. Usually, 1 teacher teaches for the first half of the semester, then the other takes the other half. And often, they teach about 2 different aspects of the material, and don’t often “cross over.” This is interesting is its own right, but it’s not the same as what I’m recommending here.

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