Poll on Paternalistic Professoring: Should Professors Post Powerpoint Slides Before Class?

January 12th, 2010

My first class starts in about 48 hours, and I am inclined to post the powerpoint slides prior to the class. Several of my professors at law school refused to post the slides beforehand, arguing that it enables students to coast, not pay attention, and know exactly what the professor will be covering, so they do not need to read everything as carefully.

All of these are compelling arguments, but I think it is being overly paternalistic. If a student wants to read the slides in advance to guide his reading and zone out during class, some creative questioning on materials off the slides can help keep these students on their toes. And, if a student is so enterprising to actually prepare extra carefully for the topics I deem important, as reflected in the slides, than more power to him/her.  Same goes for banning laptop/Internet access in class.

On this point, one of my friends on facebook, commented:

I understand you like your approach better, esp with your special learning style [special, huh? lol]. But it is not professors’ job to cater to all the learning styles of their students. It’s their job to teach in the manner they think is best (or even the manner think would make the students’ lives the hardest, which I think many professors do). If it stifles those who “learn differently” then there are ADA and Section 504 accommodations these students can apply for. 😛
My best teachers were always able to reach everyone in the class, regardless of their specific learning style. I think a Professor should try to convey the information to as many students as possible. If posting slides helps X additional percentage of students, and if X>0, then this move makes sense. On a side note, making a student’s life difficult is sadistic. I pity teachers who aim to do just that (though I think I may have survived a couple profs like that). Law school is tough enough without it.
Anyway, poll. What say you?

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