I read two interesting news pieces this morning that deal with issues of pedagogy and argument in distinctly different ways.
The first is a news item from Australia, where students are petitioning for a reduction in tuition if the course involves a lot of podcasted lectures. This essay reveals some of the hidden assumptions as to what "good teaching" involves - the main one being physical presence. But what about the portability, accessibility and pacing controls that come with a digital lecture? Apparently, these benefits are irrelevant if the text cannot be recognized as "teaching" out of the gate. The rhetorical style of "classroom" and "teaching" must be considered before podcasting or any sort of internet based technology becomes a standard practice in the University.
However the essay does make the conspiratorial part of my mind light up - perhaps this is the reason that University administrators across the US are pushing faculty to become familiar with and use tools like podcasting - there is justification as these technologies increase in ease of use and familiarity on both ends to cut faculty budgets, making everyone (except faculty) very happy.
The second news story is an opinion piece from the New York Times written by a teacher in a D.C. area school. He says a lot of predictable things about being a "good teacher," but what is most interesting is that the assumptions about what constitutes good teaching are the same as in the Australian piece.
My question for reading both of these articles is: What rhetorical elements must be present in order to effectively teach students?
What ways can rhetorical demands for style be overcome with content, effective method, or easy technology?
I think both essays also fail to question (and therefore assume) why we teach anything to anyone at all. This very large assumption can be seen in both essays to be both an economic explanation and a humanistic one - there is a market to serve and we have an obligation to make better people in our societies.