Stylus Publishing Company has just released Anthony Weston’s latest book, "Teaching as the Art of Staging: A Scenario-Based College Pedagogy in Action," illustrated by some of Weston's classic courses at Elon.
Stylus Publishing Company has just released Anthony Weston’s latest book, “Teaching as the Art of Staging: A Scenario-Based College Pedagogy in Action,” putting forward a new model of the teacher as what Weston calls an “Impresario with a Scenario”, in contrast to the familiar Lecturer (“Sage on the Stage”) or Coach (¨”Guide on the Side”) models of the teacher. Instead, Weston argues for “a teacher who serves as class mobilizer, improviser, and energizer, staging dramatic, often unexpected and self-unfolding learning challenges and adventures with students.”
Now emeritus professor of philosophy and environmental studies, Weston became legendary for playing this role in his classes at Elon. Among other things, “Teaching as the Art of Staging” includes most of a chapter narrating the “Life in the Universe” Honors classes he co-taught with Professor of Physics Tony Crider that included semester-long simulations of alien civilizations coming into contact with future Earthlings. Other classes featured unannounced but energetic encounters with historical philosophers, ethics courses whose main project was to construct and apply an ethic for the work of the class as a whole, and daily and often off-beat challenges in critical thinking and environmental ethics.
Weston’s book both narrates a wide range of adventures in the classroom and beyond, at Elon and elsewhere, and offers a theoretical and practical framework for other teachers provoked or inspired to try the Impresario model themselves.
The foreword to the book is by Peter Felten, associate provost for teaching and learning and executive director of the Center for Engaged Learning. There are shout-outs to Elon’s Philosophy Department and other Elon professors, as well as nationally-known pedagogical innovators such as Mark Carnes, founder of Reacting to the Past pedagogies. The cover photo shows a group of Elon students in action (with Weston in the background) at a key moment in one of the alien-contact simulations.