The Dark Knight of lectures

dark night of lectures

How is it possible to sit through the movie ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and retain enough information to reiterate every singular sarcastic line of the Joker but be unable to remember my lecturer’s name? Sometimes I just wish it was Dr. Bruce Wayne, Professor of Economic History and Philosophy it would make all our lives so much easier.

When you draw parallel lines on the rituals between watching a movie and attending a lecture, you may argue that there is very little in common with the two acts. The difference between education and entertainment are very stark in our minds, but in the perspective of a student fresh off the high school bandwagon the two may not seem all that different. A student passionate about their choice of subject approaches their lectures with the same eagerness as a nine year old on a sugar rush attending the Batman premier after counting down the minutes since the trailer came out. After years of being subjugated to being educated in every subject deemed important to living a full and productive life, you are now allowed to don that Bat costume and take on a different identity.

You walk in with coffee instead of Coke in your hands, replace your popcorn with a notepad and sit next to peers you might or might not interact with, turn off your phone and walk out the door assuming that you have been educated in some way. Unfortunately when it comes to lectures I’m unable to decide if it’s the shortage of a Bat mobile, some smeared clown makeup or the lack of one-liners that fails to grab my attention. Yes, all you intellectuals out there are probably frightfully disgusted with my utter disregard to concede that professors and producers are in no way comparable. If they did share common ground it would be sad to report that 4D technology and IMAX cinemas would be in the Bat Cave.

It is alarming to realize that as our world cranks out a new version of technology every second and as our attention is spread thinner we are expected to enter into a lecture hall and leave our moving world behind. The door back to the past lies in ‘Tattersall lecture theatre’ where we sit and listen to a man who has said these same words a hundred times, tweaking it with new data and Power Point slides to make it more ‘hip’ and ‘new. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way intending to throw our brilliant minds into a ship with an ultimatum to either use more interactive methods or blow up their students. I’m just suggesting that we use our resources to explore more efficient ways to make our education a more inspiring journey.

Every day millions of students attend lectures all over the world. For centuries, lectures and classrooms have been deemed the most economical way to educate a large number of people. This structure of education is considered the norm and we have accepted it even though we know the many limitations of a class lecture. Many scholars who have researched this topic conclude that human attention and retention speak against long hours of concentration. A test conducted by the University of Indiana professors Joan Middendorf and Alan Kalish claimed that students have optimal focus in twenty minute periods. They discovered that although you would expect students to recall more information from the final section of the lecture, this was not the case. In fact the results were completely opposite. After fifteen minutes many students tuned out and drew their attention to other agents.

Unfortunately practicality wins out in this war as it will never be beneficial to either student or teacher to conduct fifteen minute lectures. Even though this research is imperative in understanding our current environment it still doesn’t answer my philosophical question of ‘why I can rehash the plot line of a Batman sequel but not my week two lecture?’ The question then remains, is it really about how much we can retain within a period of time or is it about engaging the interest of our students in a more diverse and entertaining way? With social media, presentation software and apps being developed every day I constantly wonder why we are not more invested in enhancing our learning experience. While every company and household strive to update their processes we have reached a plateau of Power Point slides.

I may not have all the answers and I may never find an ideal way of learning but if it was up to me, I wouldn’t mind if it included a playboy millionaire who dons a bat-themed costume, a super-villain with a sadistic sense of humour and a femme-fatale who always needs saving, but I guess that’s a topic for another discussion.

By Alexandria Abishegam

Studying business at the University of Western Australia. Growing up in a large family expressing your opinions is always mandatory. "Life is a journey with problems to solve, lessons to learn but most of all experiences to enjoy" - Ritu Ghatourey Check out my articles for a bit of a laugh and a insight into my world...


  1. Hannah Fletchley

    03/09/2014 at 11:42 am

    Powerpoint slides suck! The sooner they’re gone, the better. The problem is that some of the new tech uni’s are using is pretty average anyway.

  2. Portia

    03/09/2014 at 3:28 pm

    Really cool article!

  3. Debby

    06/09/2014 at 12:12 am

    Funny and very true…love the theme. It’s very well written.

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