We're constantly being told that we shouldn't lecture. When pressed, the speaker (often an administrator) will back off and say that of course we should lecture sometimes, but that we need to mix it up, that it can't be the sole form of pedagogy. Well, duh. Is there anyone out there who, in K12, does nothing but lecture?
Some subjects lend themselves more to "direct instruction" than others, and lecture is an efficient form of direct instruction. The theory is that I know more about math than the students in my classes, and hence I should impart my knowledge to them. Why should they figure it out for themselves, when I can teach it to them much more quickly--and hence they can learn more in the same amount of time?
So this week in one class I tried some different approaches. Yesterday after school I came to a conclusion: I was a flop. The students were confused, they didn't understand the material, and there's no way I could give them a quiz today on this week's material--it just wouldn't be fair.
So I canceled today's quiz and I taught. No "discovery learning", no "guide on the side", no ivory tower pedagogy, just me sharing my knowledge with my pre-calculus students. And guess what. They finally got it. All week they struggled, but today it all made sense. In 50 minutes. What they couldn't understand in the previous 200 minutes.
Some would say that I just didn't do the other stuff correctly. But I know better. Some topics, and some subjects, are better presented in a "direct instruction" format. I explain the material, walk students through it, then guide them through it, then they do it on their own. It just makes sense.