Many have wondered if teaching is best described as a science or an art. As is almost always the case is such debates, both are rather accurate.
In some ways, teaching is most certainly a science. Specific methodologies can be employed which will result in reproducible outcomes. Such methodologies can even be tailored and modified to optimize success in distinct disciplines. We can clearly define learning goals and set testable standards for achievement.
And yet, teaching is also part art. We all know that great teachers are born, not made. While we can evaluate certain characteristics that will contribute to teacher success, the essence of what makes them great remains elusive.
So how can we predict whether or not a teacher will succeed?
I have been told that Bill Gates has a lot of money. To his credit, he has sought to use his wealth to better the world. No, I don’t mean a new version of Windows (which, trust me Bill, the world does not really need, or better yet, really does not need) but rather his efforts to improve the educational system in the United States. Mr. Gates, as well as almost everyone else (or so it seems), has turned his attention to the teaching profession. He has correctly concluded that improving teachers is the key to improving education.
I cannot remember a time when the teaching profession has been subjected to such a withering attack. It is hard to open to the editorial section of the newspaper without seeing some sort of commentary on the need for immediate and far reaching reform in the public school education system. Opinions abound regarding new state regulations, common standards and outside assessment of anything and everything happening in our schools. As I wrote in last week’s blog; the eyes of the nation are upon us, and they are not happy with what they see.
Funny how easily we get worked up over innovation. Frequently, we are so afraid of change that we stop thinking rationally the minute something new hits the classroom?
I am talking about all those flipping out over the relatively new use of technology in the classroom. The term used is the ‘flipped’ classroom. Simply put, teachers can fairly easily create their lessons on their computers adding any audio or visual, and make the presentation available to students. Sal Khan, and his Khan Academy, is an example of how the videos can be used.