Interested to experience how my academic colleagues might engage a small group in a topic near and dear to their hearts, I set off to attend a session on the poetry of Margaret Avison, a Canadian Christian Poet hitherto unknown to me.
Once again I am perplexed...
Although the hour-long lecture on Avison included much interesting information about the poet and the presenter’s recently defended thesis, I worry that said information will soon be lost to me. Unlike the speaker, I have not had the advantage of meditating on the material over seven years, savouring it in my mind, discussing it with others. A one-hour “sit and git” session is soon forgotten, regardless of how valuable its contents.
Yes, I wonder at the decision to share so much “salient” information in an exclusively auditory format.
I am intrigued at how a well-facilitated small group (or partner) dialogue might have encouraged a deeper, more profound and longer-lasting understanding of some of the interesting points the presenter wanted to share with us about her much-studied poet. Even a few well-constructed, thought-provoking questions might have allowed us to construct our own understanding of the poet’s very intriguing work. Following a short partnered or small group discussion around a few of these questions, the presenter could have consolidated our understanding by sharing a few salient points from her own research.
Interestingly, we learned from the presentation that the poet Avison herself allegedly used questions to enhance her own understanding of a text, for example, a reading of scripture. Further, towards the end of her presentation, in response to a question about sharing poetry with a congregation, the presenter suggested the importance of participants having at least a visual copy of the poem in front of them, that an auditory reading would not be enough.
Ahhh, I long for the day when my academic colleagues come to an understanding of and appreciation for the value of effective classroom/workshop facilitation, as opposed to the never-ending lecture format! Until that day, I suppose I will have to continue to endure the “chewed fledglings, love-tokens” from my innocently ignorant colleagues.