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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fired for NOT Lecturing?

Steven Maranville had been teaching at Utah Valley University. He taught business. He didn't lecture. He asked questions and insisted on group work. He was not offered tenure. He left the school. He is suing.
In Maranville’s case, students did not see the value of his approach, the court records suggest. "Some students were quite vocal in their demands that he change his teaching style, which style had already been observed and approved by his peer faculty and administrative superiors,” according to the lawsuit. Students did not want to work in teams and did not want Maranville to ask questions. “They wanted him to lecture.” They also complained, according to the suit, that he did not know how to teach because he is blind.
I'm disappointed but not surprised. This cohort of students did not want to be engaged, or prepare for real world work by tackling group projects, or interact with those differently abled. I wonder why they came to college? Clearly they did not want to interact with the faculty or each other. Perhaps they would have preferred an on-line program (though of course that might also involve questions and interactions).

The non-offer of tenure, it's alleged, had some basis in poor student reviews of the instructor. And, those poor reviews seem to have to do with teaching style. Is it possible an interactive and question-based form (an interpretation of the Socratic method) could get an instructor effectively fired?

I wonder if this situation is simply the intersection of so many changes in teaching and learning and timing. Is it possible these students are new to the Socratic method and group work? Is it possible they were trained in grade school and high school and other college courses to be passive learners? Is it possible they see a college degree as a card to a better job, but do not see the value in the skills learned?

I fear this will not be the last of these types of lawsuits as teacher, learners and institutions re-invent education.

Inside Higher Ed