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Participating and presenting in seminars and classes Neil McLean.

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1 Participating and presenting in seminars and classes Neil McLean

2 Overview Seminars and the teaching cycle Ice breaking Arguing, disagreeing and debating Making presentations

3 The teaching cycle Read – lecture – read – seminar – task Read for general background and overview Lecture for the literature, research, arguments Read for detailed understanding Seminar - check your understanding, define your own position Task - use the new information – essay (course work / exam), literature review, timeline, flow chart, mind map, questions to consider, pub argument

4 Purpose of seminars / classes To check your understanding of your reading/the lecture and to define your position. Therefore: Read and go to the lecture! Look at your reading list. Which text will provide an overview? Which article summarises the positions and research in the literature? Read this first. Write questions to ask Think about your response. What do you think and why?

5 Seminars Given the purpose of seminars, the teaching method is to have a discussion. Some tutors will use hand outs, others just ask questions. (A secondary goal for you is to use seminars to meet people to form study groups.)

6 Overview Seminars and the teaching cycle Ice breaking Arguing, disagreeing and debating Making presentations

7 Ice breaking In the US… geographical link “Where are you from?” “I’m from Cincinnati.” “No way, my uncle’s dog was born in Cincinnati.” “Awesome, tell me more.” “Well,…”

8 Ice breaking In the UK… discuss what is immediately true for both (e.g. the weather), find things that are true for both of you / similarities Useful topics: –Your course, themes, topics –Your class teacher –The lecturer’s curious behaviour –London –Not income, family, religion, politics – at least at first

9 Overview Seminars and the teaching cycle Ice breaking Arguing, disagreeing and debating Making presentations

10 Arguing, disagreeing and debating Politicians’ friend – speak in 3s Answer (thesis) Reason (justification) Evidence (support)

11 Speaking in 3s Answer 1 –“Yeah, well, you know, it’s kind of difficult. What I mean is it’s like, hard to say, but probably.” Answer 2 –“Ummmm…” Answer 3 –“It’s hard to say. Research is inconclusive or results are contradictory. Anderson & Dill, for instance, suggest a link between video games and short-term aggression. But at the same time, Greenfield seems to have demonstrated a connection between electronic game usage and computer literacy.

12 How to practice Devil’s advocate idea / answer – reason – evidence Agree with one of the following ideas The world is flat Binge drinking is a good thing LSE tuition fees should be higher George W. was a fine president

13 How to practise The person next to you agrees with one of the following ideas – The world is flat Binge drinking is a good thing LSE tuition fees should be higher George W. is a fine president Listen to their explanation, then ask key questions that undermine their argument

14 Disagreeing Killer questions –e.g. “What were the initial aims of the mission?” “And where are we now?” Think of the reason you disagree and ask a question that this reason is the answer to - then watch and smile Contradictory examples –e.g. “Central control of the economy works well and leads to fairer distribution of wealth.” “You mean like in North Korea?” Easy, there’s an example to prove / disprove everything

15 Key point to consider ‘The [Jeremy] Paxman halo’: it’s easier to ask than to answer. Therefore: –ask the key question and let the other person keep digging –then ask another key question –you don’t have to be brilliant, you just have to avoid having to give a plausible answer yourself!

16 Conclusion - seminars Use the seminars to check your understanding and develop your view / position – you need to participate to do this Use the seminars to learn to argue effectively (speak in 3s)

17 Final point Confucius said: The person who is smiling while speaking slowly and clearly looks like he / she is winning.

18 Overview Seminars and the teaching cycle Ice breaking Arguing, disagreeing and debating Making presentations

19 Giving presentations is another task designed to train you to communicate (and therefore to think) in the ways of your discipline Thinking strategically, these are opportunities to practise this ahead of the exam/dissertation, etc.

20 Communicating ‘academically’ PragmaticsRhetoric Locution – what you sayEthos – credibility of message and sender Illocution – how you say itPathos – effect on the audience Perlocution – purpose of the communication (provides context) Logos – flow of ideas / narrative structure

21 Making presentations Planning Writing Delivery

22 Planning Start from a question Sources of questions are… –Lecture series questions to consider –Past exam papers (gets the group’s attention!) –Key divisions in the literature –Your class tutor

23 Timing minutes is long enough to answer any question. Intro – answer + reasons – 2 mins. Section 1 – 2 mins. Section 2 – 2 mins. Section 3 – 2 mins. Section 4 – 2 mins. Conclusion – 1 min.

24 Writing Divide your sections up just like an exam essay –Answer + main reasons (prob. 4 or 5) –Have 4 or 5 sections, one for each reason In each section; –Main idea that answers your question –Justification (reasons) – give references –Support your reasoning – give detailed examples –Conclusion – summary + so what

25 Example Main idea –Intervention in Somalia in operation ‘Restore Hope’ underestimated the problems involved. Justification –The mission’s stated purpose was to safeguard UN food convoys from the docks in Mogadishu to the countryside, where the resources were needed most. The problem, however, was not that the roads were unsafe, but why they were unsafe. In a society splintered by tribal and war lord groupings, the distribution of food, or of any resource, is an intensely political act. To make the roads safe, essentially meant making society less fragmented. Support –The failure to appreciate this from the beginning meant that attempts to clear the roads had to involve more than the close order protection missions UN forces were ready for. This inevitably led to ‘mission creep’ and the doomed attempt to capture Farrah Aideed.

26 Writing a PowerPoint presentation PowerPoint is a ‘key points’ tool, it is designed to give structure to speech, not to be read. –Therefore… Start with your question Overview: answer + reasons Sections: main idea + notes on reasons / examples Conclusion: answer + so what? (note form)

27 Example Operation Restore Hope underestimated the scale of the problem Roads were dangerous, but were dangerous because of the political situation / societal fragmentation Making the roads safe, meant making the society safe Therefore, the mission ‘crept’ and figures such as General Aideed became the enemy

28 Bad example –Intervention in Somalia in operation ‘Restore Hope’ underestimated the problems involved.The mission’s stated purpose was to safeguard UN food convoys from the docks in Mogadishu to the countryside, where the resources were needed most. The problem, however, was not only that the roads were unsafe, but that in a society splintered by tribal and war lord groupings, the distribution of food, or of any resource, was an intensely political act. The failure to appreciate this from the beginning meant that attempts to clear the roads involved more than close order protection missions. This inevitably led to the famous ‘mission creep’ and the doomed attempt to capture Farrah Aideed.

29 Delivery Key points: –Don’t read your notes out –Make eye-contact with the furthest people at the start –Don’t read your notes out –Speak to the listeners, keep eye-contact around the room, slow down + pause after each idea –Don’t read your notes out –Start clearly, explain the relevance of your presentation to the group – sell it!

30 Selling the presentation Explain the value of listening – Relevance / Exam / Interest “In the lecture, Professor Herring discussed the need to understand the construction of identity in order to follow the whole course. This presentation is related to one of the key elements of identity – self image.” “This presentation answers the exam question, ‘Why dig holes?’ This question, or one very similar, has been in the exam for the last four years.” “While the figures vary, a recent study published in the Lancet put civilian deaths in Iraq at 566,000 since the invasion. This presentation tries to account for this death toll and the reasons Iraq is slipping inexorably into civil war.”

31 Conclusions - presentations Plan it like an exam essay: –intro (answer + reasons) –1 section per reason (idea / reasoning / evidence) –conclusion (summary + so what?)

32 Conclusions - presentations Don’t read your notes out, know the arguments and speak to the audience Make a coherent answer to the question, keep eye-contact and a good speed Before you start, tell them why listening is valuable

33 Links fishman-december excerpt / sPqssOY uvM0xE

34 Conclusions Presenting and discussion in classes and seminars is an opportunity to perfect the kind of thinking and communication required here Taking this opportunity requires preparation and practice

35 Epilogue Inspirational quote… “Talk low, talk slow and don’t say too f****** much.” John Wayne offering career advice to Michael Caine in the lobby toilet of the Beverley Hills Wiltshire hotel, 1973


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