I concluded early on that vocabulary is basic to learning in any field of study.
What seems like "jargon" to people outside the field proves crucial within.
But acquiring the vocabulary without the ability to use it to understand, predict and possibly influence phenomena leads to an intellectual dead end.
Thus learning the vocabulary of sociology and using it to identify, puzzle over, and eventually develop satisfactory understandings of sociological phenomena are core goals in my teaching, and in fact in my own sociological work, whether the concerns are with the quality of community life, occupational opportunities, the adjustments of racial, ethnic and immigrant groups to American life, experiences in one's career, or in one's marriage (all topics explored in the courses I teach).
Of course the relative emphases on learning vocabulary and using it vary depending on the level of the course, that is with the prior preparation and experiences of students.
In introductory courses, especially, the primary aim may be building concepts, exploring ways other sociologists have used them, and analyzing case studies.
Later, especially when students are engaged in community internships or research, the emphasis shifts to use and application.
In the meantime, yes, work in the classroom is essential: readings, lectures, discussion and case studies. (No secrets here; some of the old ways still work very well.)
Please visit these pages for additional information:
Roy Childs, Professor of Sociology
Wendell Phillips Hall