Transformational Education > A new way of teaching
More than an ink blot
"To be honest," wrote human-relations pioneer Fritz Roethlisberger in his memoir, "in my early days of teaching I tended to treat the case as an ink blot upon which the students could project whatever pattern they saw in it. I tried to correct this exaggeration later, when I taught cases I had collected myself rather than the cases my colleagues had collected. In the early days, when few facts about concrete human behavior were described in cases, I had to concentrate my attention upon where the concrete behavior existed, namely, in the behavior of my students."
"There were other limitations in my style of teaching the case method. With my emphasis on observation and trying to understand what was going on, the question of action and what needed to be done came after the diagnosis of the problem had been made. Because in my classes this diagnosis often took more of the allotted classroom time, I seldom got to the action question until about 15 minutes before the class was to end. Sometimes, to be honest, I never got to this point at all."
"On the other hand, many of my colleagues started the case discussion with the action question—that is, by asking the students what alternative actions could be taken in terms of the logical issues that the case presented and by asking them to decide in relation to the facts of the case which alternative would be the best. There is little question that for many of the cases written in the early days, this approach was the more logical, and it had the most adherents."
"For me it had one drawback. By my approach I had difficulty in a class hour in getting to a discussion of what needed to be done. By their approach they had difficulty in getting to a discussion of how their logical solution of the problem in the case was going to be implemented. The human factor was obviously highlighted in the implementation of the solution, and this is why I was interested in the question."