Walky Talky

One of the regular indignities we university teachers have to face is the “Peer Review of Lectures”, during which another member of teaching staff sits in on a lecture in order to give, hopefully constructive, criticism. I first went through this many years ago and among the negative comments made by my reviewer – who shall remain nameless – concerned my tendency to pace around while lecturing. I wasn’t aware that I did it until it was mentioned in that context but try as I might I haven’t really been able to stop doing it. It’s probably just nerves, but the excuse I usually give is that I like to present a moving target. Anyway, it’s not such a bad thing to move around when you’re lecturing, is it? A little animation isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Or is it?

On the other hand, one can obviously take this too far. Anyone who saw Gordon Brown’s speech about the Labour leadership contest a few days ago will have seen this taken to an extreme. He moved backwards and forwards so regularly that it was almost hypnotic, like those ducks you see at a fairground shooting gallery. It was inevitable that someone would give him this treatment..

Jeremy Corbyn is 66.

7 Responses to “Walky Talky”

  1. Adrian Burd Says:

    I move around a great deal and use one of those wireless mice to operate the computer (I know others who use an iPad). So far, no one evaluating my teaching has complained about it. So I don’t think it’s a bad thing, and it has the advantage of keeping the students awake during an otherwise soporific presentation.

  2. I thought your lecturing style was fine and didn’t notice you paced at all.

  3. Anton Garrett Says:

    Any opinions on hand gesticulation anybody? I think there is a place for it but that there is too much of it.

    • telescoper Says:

      Some people use their hands more than others. If it’s a natural aspect of a person’s way of communicating I don’t mind it at all. But if it’s forced and artificial it puts me right off.

      I think Magnus Pyke, for example, clearly exaggerated his arm-waving for the cameras…

      • Anton Garrett Says:

        Have you never encountered anybody who did it unselfconsciously but whom you still found irritating?

  4. Anton Garrett Says:

    I read an interesting tale in a book recently. A bunch of students noticed that a certain lecturer was a walkie-talkie and decided to play a prank on him. Whenever he walked to one side of the lecture theatre they scowled and showed signs of inattention; whenever he walked to the other side they listened raptly. After a few lectures he delivered most of his content from the latter side wall. Then they told him what they had done. He ardently denied that he had been influenced by them and said he had chosen to talk from there by his own free choice.

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