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Notes from the CFT Library: The Art of Discussion Leading

This article was originally published in the Fall 1998 issue of the CFT’s newsletter, The Teaching Forum.

The Art of Discussion Leading: A Class with Chris Christensen. Harvard University videotape, 30 minutes.

By Dave Jensen, Master Teaching Fellow

This video is an excellent introduction to the case method and, more generally, to the artistry of one of its more-noted innovators, Chris Christensen. The sequence includes clips of one of Christensen’s own seminars, interviews with some of his students, and remarks by Christensen himself. Christensen notes, “Every good teaching plan has an experiment,” a theme that is echoed throughout the video’s vignettes. Effective teaching and discussion leading, for Christensen, is not spoonfeeding, but the engagement of differing perspectives and the fostering of student leadership in conversation. When Christensen speaks, it is more often in the form of further questions than definitive declarations, thus inviting further exploration. The value of this videotape is that it presents one of the case method’s great practitioners in action.