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September 1999

When Does Teaching Equal Education?

Arch Ophthalmol. 1999;117(9):1238. doi:10.1001/archopht.117.9.1238

WHILE YOU INSTRUCT patients how to manage their conditions or new medication regimens, are you confident they understand? After you have lectured medical students, do you know if they have absorbed your message? When you have just explained the technique of retinoscopic straddling to residents, do you feel they have assimilated your teaching?

Most of us feel our instructional monologues—whether to patients or medical students, residents or colleagues—have discharged our teaching responsibilities, and that it is the listeners' fault if they did not learn. We really know, however, that a lecture is not a very effective educational method (except as an expedient way to provide a significant amount of information to a large group in a short time). We have all experienced our minds slipping into neutral in a darkened room while a presenter fills the screen with busy and tedious word slides and drones on about them. Sadly, the teacher-centered approach to instruction has been perpetuated simply because we teach as we were taught!

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