This morning I received a brief but touching comment on my most recent blog post: "I miss Patrick teaching." I responded to this anonymous post in a manner which I repost here because I think it's worth wider readership:
Please know that I'm organizing this class in a non-traditional manner not because I want to avoid "teaching" (though, believe me, I'm doing as much teaching, in a non-traditional sense, as I would in any other course), but because I truly feel that the Moore method is the best way to approach this material. By asking you all to explain your ideas to one another, it firms up your understanding of those ideas. By asking you to take responsibility for your work, you become the authors (quite literally) of the ideas you're presenting to one another. It's much more learner-centered, and ultimately (I believe, and the literature on pedagogy bears me out) more effective.
Thank you for your kind sentiment! I've not totally disappeared from the scene; as you've noticed, I hope, I'll take my turn "on stage" from time to time.
To elaborate briefly: I know I'm a good lecturer, and I know that I explain things well. But seeing something done and doing it yourself are two different things, and you stand to gain much more from actually solving the problems yourself and explaining your solutions to each other than you do listening to me do it for you. It's a bit more work on your part, to be sure, but the time you spend on that work will be time well spent. Meanwhile, please know I'm still doing a lot of work behind the scenes, arranging problems in a manner I think is effective to help you work your way through the new ideas, including the definitions and theorems I think are most critical to us in our work, and working with you in class as you develop your solutions.
This I promise you: my explanations are still here for you if you need them, and I will be delighted to help you work your way through any problem you might struggle with. All I'm asking is that you give it all you've got to come up with solutions on your own first. Believe me, you'll get much more out of it that way.
So, let's stay the course, y'all. I'm enjoying class so far, and so far you're doing a marvelous job. Keep it up!