UPC: 9781421439099 | The Amateur Hour (Hardcover)

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  • The lowest price of The Amateur Hour: A History of College Teaching in America was obtained on June 22, 2024 7:29 am.
UPC: 9781421439099 | The Amateur Hour (Hardcover)
UPC: 9781421439099 | The Amateur Hour (Hardcover)


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American college teaching is in crisis or so we are told. But we ve heard that complaint for the past 150 years as critics have denounced the poor quality of instruction in undergraduate classrooms. Students daydream in gigantic lecture halls while a professor drones on or they meet with a teaching assistant for an hour of aimless discussion. The modern university does not reward teaching so faculty members at every level neglect it in favor of research and publication. In the first book-length history of American college teaching Jonathan Zimmerman confirms but also contradicts these perennial complaints. Drawing upon a wide range of previously unexamined sources The Amateur Hour shows how generations of undergraduates indicted the weak instruction they received. But Zimmerman also chronicles institutional efforts to improve it especially by making teaching more personal. As higher education grew into a gigantic industry he writes American colleges and universities introduced small-group activities and other reforms designed to counter the anonymity of mass instruction. They also experimented with new technologies like television and computers which promised to personalize teaching by tailoring it to the individual interests and abilities of each student. But Zimmerman reveals the emphasis on the personal inhibited the professionalization of college teaching which remains ultimately an amateur enterprise. The more that Americans treated teaching as a highly personal endeavor dependent on the idiosyncrasies of the instructor the less they could develop shared standards for it. Nor have they rigorously documented college instruction a highly public activity which has taken place mostly in private. Pushing open the classroom door The Amateur Hour illuminates American college teaching and frames a fresh case for restoring intimate learning communities especially for America s least privileged students. Anyone who wants to change college teaching will have to start here.

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