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The Takeaway of José Bowen's New Book, 'Teaching Naked'

by Gail Sachson 13 Aug 2012 10:06 AM

Guest blogger Gail Sachson dissects some of the lessons in the Meadows School dean’s new book.


Guest blogger Gail Sachson, past Chair of the Cultural Affairs Commission, teaches 50 Reasons to Love Dallas at SMU in November.

José Bowen, Dean of the Meadows School of the Arts at SMU since 2006, has long advised the artists he trains to convince people that what they have done is relevant matters. Now, in his new book, Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning, he directs his remarks, practical advice and research to those artists’ teachers. He writes that they must convince their students that what they are teaching is relevant and matters.

Is technology their best and only choice of delivery? No, says Bowen. But, used wisely, it is essential to the teacher’s credibility and to get the attention of the student. The book’s title is provocative, but Bowen isn’t advocating nudity or a continuation of traditional lecture classroom. Neither does he make a case for a college classroom loaded down with 21st century technological inventions. Instead, he suggests  “a complete rethinking of the use of class time, overhauling it from a passive listening experience into a transformative learning experience.”

Teachers must be savvy and “plugged in” to their students’ worlds. They must embrace technology – just not within the classroom itself. He details how e-mail, podcasts, Facebook entries and other customized virtual communication channels should be used before class as preparation for face-to-face class time. Followup to class could come in the form of tweets, text messages, e-mails and future modes of communication we don’t even know about yet. Courses should be structured using technology more like video games, with incremental rewards. But class time should not be cluttered with those games, announcements or even too much course content, which could be delivered before class online, better preparing the student for small group discussions. In the classroom, passionate interaction should take the place of power points.

Teaching Naked is available in print and e book on and iTunes.