Teaching Profession Letter to the Editor

‘Outrageous’ Teaching Has a Residual Effect

September 15, 2009 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

In his Aug. 12, 2009, letter to the editor responding to my Commentary “Boredom in Class? Try ‘Outrageous’ Instruction,” (edweek.org, July 13, 2009), Walt Gardner correctly writes that it takes more work to teach an “outrageous” lesson, or one that uses dramatic technique as the primary method for delivering existing content. Indeed, trying to teach such a lesson every day would be draining. But that frequency is not what I proposed.

Mr. Gardner accurately notes toward the end of his letter that I proposed teaching only two such lessons a year as a starting point, to which he expresses pessimism that doing so would have any sustained effect. I can only say that I typically observed classes for from three to four weeks after the individual outrageous lessons, and could still see a dramatic change in the relationship between the students and the teacher, and between the students and the content. In addition, when teachers gave a test at the end of a unit in which only the first lesson was taught outrageously, those classes did better than when all the lessons were taught conventionally.

While there clearly was a residual effect, I cannot say as a researcher whether there would be a cumulative effect three to four months later. Nor do we know what the overall positive cumulative impact on school and classroom culture would be if all teachers in a school gave two such lessons per year. But it would probably be considerable.

Of course, the alternative is to be cynical and not change, and continue to teach resistant, bored students every day conventionally—which is indeed a draining experience. So I would suggest that educators take a chance, teach two outrageous lessons this year, and compare their findings. I suspect that they will experience exhilaration—which is indeed an exhausting result, albeit a good one.

Stanley Pogrow

Professor of Educational Leadership

San Francisco State University

San Francisco, Calif.

A version of this article appeared in the September 16, 2009 edition of Education Week as ‘Outrageous’ Teaching Has a Residual Effect


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning
Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Achievement Webinar
How can districts build sustainable tutoring models before the money runs out?
District leaders, low on funds, must decide: broad support for all or deep interventions for few? Let's discuss maximizing tutoring resources.
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Should Class Feel Like Entertainment? Teachers Have Mixed Feelings
Teachers on social media give their opinions on whether entertaining is a necessary part of their job.
4 min read
An eighth-grade math teacher demonstrates a lesson called “math golf.”
An eighth-grade math teacher demonstrates a lesson called “math golf.”
Allison Shelley for All4Ed
Teaching Profession Teachers’ Careers Go Through Phases. They Need Support in Each
Teachers experience a dip in job satisfaction a few years into their careers.
5 min read
Vector illustration of a female teacher at her desk with her head in her hands. There are papers, stacked notebooks, and a pen on the desk and a very light photo of a blurred school hallway with bustling students walking by in the background.
Teaching Profession Download Downloadable: 5 Ways Principals Can Help With Teacher Burnout
This downloadable gives school leaders and teachers various ways to spot and treat teacher burnout.
1 min read
Silhouette of a woman with an icon of battery with low charge and icons such as a scribble line, dollar sign and lightning bolt floating around the blue background.
Teaching Profession Massages, Mammograms, and Dental Care: How One School Saves Teachers' Time
This Atlanta school offers unique onsite benefits to teachers to help them reduce stress.
3 min read
Employees learn more about health and wellness options during a mini benefits fair put on by The Lovett School in Atlanta on May 8, 2024.
Employees at the Lovett School in Atlanta meet with health benefits representatives during a mini benefits fair on May 8, 2024.
Erin Sintos for Education Week