Teaching is at the core of any University’s mission. While stereotypes abound about old-fashioned professors who teach through didactic lecture, there are many innovations in teaching occurring in higher education. Active learning projects, multi-media case studies and simulations, collaborative writing assignments…these and many other techniques are being used as faculty experiment with new pedagogical methods. Yet, there are not many venues for sharing about this teaching practice or the lessons learned from implementation. The chapters in this section provide this type of reflection among a few of the teachers and trainers applying Art of Hosting to their classrooms and programs.
These accounts are significant. Research on the science of teaching and learning provides evidence that experience and social interactions are essential for significant learning. If people are stimulated and slightly uncomfortable as they stretch to master new material in a supportive environment, significantly learning can occur (Caine & Caine, 2001; Gibson, 2003). Emotional and motivational shifts can occur, even causing alterations to the neural structure of the brain (Caine & Caine, 2011; Sheckely, 2006). How learning occurs is very significant in shaping what content is learned.
In fact, each chapter in this section showcases the interrelation of content and process. While knowledge about the topic being taught is necessary, content expertise is insufficient for creating significant learning experience. Process expertise, which attends to the means of engagement, of how individuals and group develop, is also essential. With this understanding, these authors emphasize the importance of what are conventionally understood to be small details: arrangements of rooms, visual appeal, food, material artifacts. When aligned with the desired outcomes, these elements can reinforce the content and motivate students to learn it differently.
All of the authors also talk about their teaching as a practice, something that they try to improve over time. Learning is a dance between teachers and students. If students don’t accept what teachers offer, interrogate and engage with it, little learning occurs. As a result, the invitations these teachers make to their students are significant. Each cultivates student engagement through relationships in the class and training room.
- Quick’s story recounts how Art of Hosting changed how she developed a new course in citizen engagement, and altered her own sense of herself as an instructor across all of her teaching responsibilities.
- Sandfort’s story describes a program focused on mid-career professionals that draws upon the Art of Hosting approach to inform both what is taught and how it is taught. In videos that supplement this text, students share their own assessment of the effectiveness of this approach.
- Morris’ story, with Sandfort’s enhancement, emphasizes how foreign a hosting approach to training seemed when it was first introduced at the University of Minnesota. In the 2009 Forum for Leadership Educators, Morris introduced these practices and revealed the types of significant learning that can result. This path, though, was not without risks. Through both stories, we learn more about the risks and benefits felt by these authors.
- Lopez describes a training focused on improving hosting skills. A key element of the Art of Hosting Four-Fold Practice is co-learning with others; in this account, skilled graphic facilitators shared their “tricks of the trade” with others.
- Lundquist and Sandfort describe the three-day Art of Hosting training. Unlike conventional trainings, it provides experience hosting (with supportive coaching), operating as an immersive practicum. All authors in this volume, and others in the University’s Community of Practitioners, experienced this type of introduction to the approach.
A new understanding of pedagogy will emerge as other teachers and trainers continue to bring what they’ve learned from Art of Hosting into their classrooms. We hope this section contributes to that growing discussion in higher education, given what we are learning at the University of Minnesota.