Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Finally A Good Article About Teaching

So much of the debate over teaching and learning falls into the usual labor patterns of labor vs management.  I will concede that teacher's unions are very much a part of that problem.  But living in a town where the budget process is a continual assault on teaching and teachers, that seems inevitable.

The op-ed above steps back from the arguments over charter schools and teacher tenure and standardized testing.  It makes the valid point that most Education programs at the university level are completely irrelevant to the teaching of teaching.

My rule of thumb is that the most important quality a teacher can have is authenticity.  Kids can spot a faker, just ask Holden Caulfield.  If you're quiet, then you will be best at creating quiet spaces for students to venture into.  If you're an incessant talker, then perhaps a Socratic method will work (as it does for me).  If you're stern, then you should be stern (but fair).  If you are kind, then you should be kind (but demanding).

You obviously can't "teach" authenticity.  But you can inculcate it.  And what's more you can teach things like lesson planning, different pedagogical approaches, curriculum design and cognitive development.

Where I would disagree with Nocera is that programs that do this are rare.  Maybe I'm too cloistered, but we run a program that teaches teachers - many of them are coming for their required Continuing Education Units - and we do exactly that.

Even good teacher training can't ameliorate the jitters and insecurities of a young, new teacher.  But they can help.  They can give them the tools to manage a classroom better and to understand kids better.

Changing undergraduate education departments at universities should be a movement everyone can support.

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