How lecturing and teaching became old-fashioned — 05

Bruce Dickson
5 min readSep 3, 2018


A lecture at the University of Bologna in Italy in the mid-fourteenth century. The lecturer reads from a text on the lectern while students in the back talk, make conversation and sleep ~ Wikipedia

Fifth chunk of the forthcoming Attract More Cultural Creatives to Your Team Human Org
Group Process at the Center of Organizational Development;
Creating Social Glue As an Art-form;
How to Re-Invent Face-to-Face Culture Series

Identifying cultural innovators by Maslow’s pyramid

Up to 1972, the needs of Progressive audiences were primarily in the lower three-fifths of the pyramid.

After 1972 the Cultural Creatives who “peaked out” (the mirror reflection of “dropped out”) of he anti-war, anti-nuke movement, began paying more attention to the upper two-fifths of the pyramid.

Progressive leaders and Democrats of 1972 were mostly oblivious to this shift and had nothing to say. I suggest we change this.

Stop talking down to cultural creative innovators

Cultural Creatives and members of Team Human tend to be the most desirable prospects for Progressive groups of all kind. These folks enjoy composing and creating new cultural expressions; 10% of which, will have much wider usefulness than even the creators imagine.

When you as a leader-organizer speak to Cultural Creatives in the language of “Take it from me, I’m the authority” or “Think as I think; feel as I feel” your audience feels talked-DOWN-to.

Since 1972 Progressive leaders have mostly been talking down to their ideal prospective Cultural Creative joiners.

Leaders of Progressive groups, orgs, churches, etc too often talking down to their most valuable prospective participants, members and employees.

How lecturing and teaching became old-fashioned

In 2018 ALL lecturing and teaching feels old-fashioned. The reason? Lecturing and teaching were from the period in humanity’s evolution when imitating thinking and ‘taking truth on the word of older authorities’ was slowly developing. In the Dark Ages, thru the Renaissance, and thru the Industrial Revolution, preserving existing knowledge and conveying it to new generations so they did not have to re-invent the wheel, was practical, necessary and laudable.

These more basic, less sophisticated ways of thinking were needed and paramount: Imitative Thinking and Thinking Based on How External Authorities Think. (Some readers will know these as the first two of three stages of Waldorf stage-development of Thinking — but I digress).

Until the Berkeley Free Speech Riots, the above two ways of Thinking were all that was offered.

In Galileo’s time, if you thought independently, you were put on trial for heresy against the Church.

Only non-conformist “Bohemian” artists and writers escaped from thinking along traditional, Conservative lines, supported by these two more-limited tiers of Thinking.

Since around 1958 and television, we have somewhat the opposite problem: iteration, repetition of existing, traditional knowledge are so common and prevalent, more challenging to discern new original ideas to evaluate their practical value for the future.

In all for-profit, ad-driven mass media, the Cult of Sameness, the familiar and predictable, is always going to rule, sooner or later.

Each for-profit medium becomes primarily a suitable backdrop-background for selling, buying and consuming.

When everything is “new.” hard to tell which new ideas are significant towards futures different from dystopias.

This situation had not changed much by 1972 or even 2008; at least, not as much as Progressive leaders imagine and assume.

Pop Culture origins

Pop Culture has been around 1000 years or more. However if we start looking from 1958 towards the present, I think the following dynamic stands out.
The K-12 schools, churches, synagogues and government authorities of 1958, did not welcome, encourage and embrace the newness-creativity-innovation of the Boomer Generation.

Starting from 1958, the newness, creativity and innovation of the Boomer Generation was only permitted expression in fringe culture, not in mainstream culture.

“Fringe culture” is “pop culture” and vice versa.

Back to topic, as they absorbed more and more inexpensive and free higher education 1955–1965, the Boomer Generation’s need and desire to express, experiment with and explore independent-critical thinking grew and grew.

Old established culture of 1958, the Establishment, innovated not at all, responded pro-actively to this new need in youngsters virtually not at all.
Therefore, ALL lecturing and teaching seemed old-fashioned more and more.
The result? Berkeley Free Speech Riots begun in the school year, 1963–1964.

Wikipedia has a good summary. Also the whole late-1960s “Do your own thing” fad and, “Don’t trust anyone over age 30.”

The Rebellion had destroyed the Death Star (the part-oriented, death-oriented colleges and universities).

The Empire Strikes Back

Like many, I date the Regressive-Conservative response to the Powell Memo of 1977. The Berkeley riots were very much on the mind of Judge Powell.
The Progressive-Cultural Creative response to the Berkeley Free Speech Riots was a varied outpouring of independent expressions, a list can assist:

- student-led, free, on campus teach-ins,
- MAD Magazine (its heyday and start of reprinting the comics in paperback, which went to tens of editions),
- Association for Humanistic Psychology, its heyday after 1958,
- Encounter groups, sensitivity training groups,
- Training of lay persons in counseling for free counseling clinics
- The first push to develop Psychosomatic Medicine,
- UFO discussion and study, a mainstay of independent and fringe thinkers,
- What else have I forgot?

This list adds up to the need in the Boomer Generation to exercise, express, experiment and have trained, their new more subtle, more powerful capacity of thinking for yourself, independent, critical thinking.

A public need for this did not exist prior to WW II. The USA of the 1930s-1940s was more the cultural landscape of Sinclair Lewis’s Babbitt, “The word “Babbitt” entered the English language as a “person and especially a business or professional man who conforms unthinkingly to prevailing middle-class standards” ~ Miriam Webster Dictionary

Contrasting Regressive-Conservative 1958 culture with pop culture 1958, you can imagine hyper-active, hyper creative pop culture as the shadow or mirror image of the hypo-creative politics and religiosity of the Conservative 1950s. Imitative and authoritative teaching-lecturing created that world — and that world was fading away into history.

The idea of non-interactive, one-way teaching-lecturing putting people to sleep goes back to Medieval times at least:
dg-of the sleeping students in 12th century class
CAPTION A lecture at the University of Bologna in Italy in the mid-fourteenth century. The lecturer reads from a text on the lectern while students in the back talk, make conversation and sleep.

Progressive leaders since 2008? You are unintentionally putting your listeners to sleep and driving them to check their phones for email by habitually employing group process formats from hundreds of years ago.

Since 1973 and much more markedly since 2008, leaders of Progressive groups, orgs, churches, etc wishing to attract CCs but still employing teaching-lecturing are losing their audiences. In Sept. 2018 I just another 10,000 mostly small churches in the USA are expected to close in 2018, the tenth year in a row this statistic has been reported.

Upgrading your group processes can turn this around. If you can put new wine into old skins — easier for churches than fro other orgs — great. If not, use these insights and methods to build up your new org.

To Learn More on three stages of Thinking

A complete exposition of Classic Waldorf Three Stages of Thinking is beyond our scope here; and, is addresses in half or more of all my books, most recently in Growing Sustainable Children; and, Schools Worthy of Our Affection;Team Human K-12 Teacher Training; Waldorf Outside the Box; Local Assembly Required
dg-three thinkings



Bruce Dickson

Health Intuitive, author in Los Angeles, CA