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Lecturing vs. rambling: A fine line

By Staff Editorial
On April 21, 2014


Students come to classes because they want to learn and instructors are in class because they have been hired to teach those students. During class when an instructor is lecturing it is not uncommon for a student's hand to raise because he or she has a question.  In a perfect world, what the instructor should do is answer that question and continue with the lesson. However, this is not a perfect world and what sometimes happens is that the question opens up a whole new discussion in class.  

Many students in the class may welcome a new tangent of discussion but for a few it may not be welcome. Some students strongly believe the instructor should stay on topic because they are in the class to learn, not to participate in off topic discussions that sometimes even lead to irrelevant conversations about that instructor's hobbies or personal life. 

Such topics are interesting and funny every now and then, especially when they pertain to the actual lecture. However, more often than not, the intrusion has nothing to do with the lesson. Students tend to just go along with it, not only because the instructor is supposed to be "in charge" but also because the students would rather listen to rambling than actually do their work and learn. 

Then, after the instructor rambles for a large portion of the class, the students complain about how they cannot remember anything the instructor taught. Sometimes the students can't remember the lecture because the instructor did not actually teach anything.

Instructors and students alike are equally guilty for these off topic discussions. The students are guilty for letting it happen and intentionally spurring the discussion and instructors because some go off topic so easily. A good way to fix this would be to say no off topic discussions in class but since we are human that will not happen nor should it.

Each instructor brings his or her own flair to their instruction so they should be allowed to have interpersonal relationships with their students. However ,instructors need to find a happy medium and realize that while they are paid to be at the college, the students are not. 

Instead, the students pay for the class and its materials and when the instructor fails to teach, then all that money (that students or their parents put forth for educational purposes) has gone to waste. 

Overall, excessive off topic discussions need to stop. They are a waste of time and money. If instructors is only in class to talk about themselves then why make a test at the end of the semester based on the material in the textbook? Why not just do tests over what the instructors talk about, like his or her favorite hobbies, past experiences or something funny they heard on the bus? 

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