Education that’s not to the point

Esther Cepeda:

My belief that the PowerPoint presentation is the worst thing that ever happened to modern education was verified a few months ago while I was observing a training session on the art of marketing complex technology. At one point, the teacher stopped his PowerPoint presentation to rant about the tyranny of PowerPoint presentations.
The trainer bemoaned the skull-numbing effect that an endless stream of bullet points and images has on a listener.
He painstakingly detailed the absolute no-nos of trying to impart important information through such a limited method: Keep the number of slides to a minimum, use as little text on each slide as possible and never, ever, recite your bullet points verbatim.
Then he told us that the newest trend in high-level salesmanship is to perform important presentations without electronic aides. Apparently, top sales professionals have started learning to sketch so they can hand-illustrate their most important concepts on whiteboards during a talk in front of clients.
Such an effort demonstrates two things, the trainer said. “First, it shows the customer that you know your stuff, that you’re not just regurgitating strings of facts because you need to have slides and fill them. And second, it shows your audience that you are tailoring how you impart information in a way that is relevant to them in the moment.”
“Wow!” I thought. “That’s exactly how teaching used to be.”
Well, that’s how it used to be a long time ago when teachers were masters of their subject areas and they shared their wisdom by lecturing and maybe making a few notes on a chalkboard. Back when students were — gasp! –expected to listen and even — double-gasp! — take notes.
That method died sometime after I graduated from college and before I began my graduate-level teacher training nearly a decade later.