The problem with encyclopedic approach to teaching: lecture at MET
Friday I attended the Annual Lecture on the Arts of South and Southeast Asia at the NY Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET), delivered by Crispin Branfoot, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. His lecture was titled: “Making Madurai: Temple Arts in Early Modern South India”.
Dr. Branfoot is, I am sure, a world renowned expert, and the MET has some wonderful education programs. And this one in particular was filled to capacity, such that I had to watch it from an adjacent “study room”. So, definitely, this was a wonderful learning opportunity, right? Even worth missing the first part of the Art21 Season 6 sneak preview at School of Visual Arts (SVA), right?
What was the problem? The problem is the old and stale encyclopedic approach to teaching. A series of photographs, graphs, maps, and descriptions, do not equal to teaching (even if an anecdote or joke is thrown into the loooong and monotone word-by-word read lecture), because data is not information, and information is not knowledge.
Until that distinction is not fully understood, we will not be able to move our academic institutions from the Illustration era encyclopedic approach to teaching (data), to the computer age (information), to the XXI century (knowledge).