Thursday, September 4, 2008

Riddle Me This... would you define "teaching"? This isn't a terribly important question in the grand scheme of things (at least not nearly as important as getting a handle on what learning is or what ought to be learned). Perhaps, a different way to ask the question is what do people typically called "teachers" (like myself, your favorite teacher in high school, etc) do in the classroom (very broadly understood as where classes meet) that can facilitate or impede learning?

What powers are "teachers" given and do we use them as well as we could to facilitate your learning (and learning of what)?

Like I said, this may not be a hugely relevant question, but I'd be curious to hear/read your thoughts.


JMc said...

Here's an answer that was sent to me:

I think teachers are people who nudge you in the right direction, answer your questions,people that inspire you to learn or experience new things. These are the good teachers, the bad teachers unfortunately have just as much influence over their students. They can make the material dull and lifeless causing all but the most adamant of students to give up on the subject. They can wring out their students' emotions with negative displays of body language, verbal abuse, or intentional incompetence. Teachers do not have to be people with a degree and work in a school or university. Any one who opens a person's eyes to new possibilities is a teacher.

lynalyn said...

Oh, I think teachers are those people to whom we listen on a topic of relevance to us. You can teach someone a factoid, and be considered a teacher in the moment, or you can lead someone through the workings of philosophy (ARG!), and be considered a true (permanent, ongoing) teacher for your explanations and understanding of the topic.

As for power, I think teachers are only powerful in the students listen. You are given power by the people that hired you to have the opportunity to use your knowledge for have the power to "show the light," only if the person is willing to learn. Otherwise, your only power is to throw someone out of class for being useless.

So far, the best teachers use their power of knowledge and explanation well if they are patient, thorough, and anticipate what we're thinking and what we as students need.

Ok, I should really stop and reread this to see if I made any sense, but I'm going to trust that something in here answered your question and attempt to figure out my own questions on philosophy that need answering. :) Have a good weekend!!

eric said...

I think teachers are anyone you learn something from that you can use to improve your life or change your life.

jayellsbrg said...

Applying the aforementioned concept that a teacher is anyone you learn something from, with the classroom conception, what the teacher can teach depends on the students. If the students are young, teaching usually involves replication and reciprocation of facts. The younger the student the greater the teacher's power, for the young student is knows less, and more susceptible to believe anything, because they don't know any better: "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything."

The more mature the student, the more the teacher can then teach them to apply their knowledge and think for themselves, answer their own questions. The classroom setting slowly shifts from lecture to discussion; gradually, the teacher-student relationship begins to blur.

If teachers could better facilitate students' learning, I feel they could foster the ability to think for themselves sooner; however, while still keeping an open mind, for they certainly don't know everything, and never will. So they should be open to constantly learning/experiencing new possibilities.

How do you feel about your position as a teacher?

JMc said...

I'd say that regardless of the age of the student, teachers should be facilitating learning and facilitating the learning of something that is going to help the student to succeed not only in school but in life (because the point of learning in school is to succeed in life so if students only learned how to succeed in school, well, that'd be a fairly useless thing to learn if school didn't give students something beyond school). I think that the most important thing for students to learn is to think for themselves, be curious, read, speak, think and write well, ask questions, be open and interested in new ideas but not too willing to accept every new idea introduced, willing to seriously consider the possibility that their already held beliefs are false.

They should also learn to take themselves seriously (and all that this entails) both intellectually and otherwise but not too seriously.

See, not too much :-)

I completely agree that discussions, etc. should start earlier (in fact, I'd say they should be the norm all through education).

I take all of this really seriously and view my role as a teacher as a huge responsibility and opportunity to do something important. How well do I do? Well, let's just say that I'm very aware of being a work in progress.