Read then Listen or Listen then Read
I reach the point in the discussion at which I pose a puzzle and want to see if the students can work out the solution—and it occurs to me that any student who has done the required reading already knows the answer, because it is in the book. I make a particularly telling point, summarize an argument with a punch line that I least believe to be witty—and if a student reacts, that is evidence that he hasn't read the assigned chapter, since it contains the same punch line. Large parts of the dramatic effect of the class only work for students who haven't done the reading I assigned for them.
One solution would be to use someone else's book. But if there were another book on the subject I was happy with, I wouldn't have had had to write mine. Another would be to try to forget everything in the book, start over with a blank page, and create an entirely new explanation of the ideas for class. I doubt I could do it, and if I could I wouldn't—I would rather spend my time understanding and explaining some new set of ideas.
An alternative that recently occurred to me is to reverse the order, assign each chapter to be read after the relevant class instead of before. That way the class can introduce the ideas, the reading can fill in details, reinforce what was discussed in class, give the student a second chance to make sense of something he did not understand the first time through.
And I can deliver my punch lines to students who don't already know them.
An intermediate possibility was suggested yesterday by a student; he said that he usually read the chapter after the first class in which the material was discussed but before the second. That way the material was fresh when he first heard it in class and he could use the second class to raise any questions that the reading had left him with.
Has anyone out there tried one or another versions of this approach, either as student or teacher? If so, how did it work?