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Centerpointe Research

Student

Good Teachers, Bad Teachers

education

education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

I was not an education major; but my graduate education in my subject matter qualified? me to teach college in that area.  My experience as a student, eventually taught me what I didn’t know when I first started school.  Naively, when I was young, I expected that my teachers not only knew their subject matter, but they also knew how to teach it.  Initially I felt that if I failed to master the subject matter, it was my fault.  Then as I became a student in high school, I learned (what almost all students learn at that point)  that you could easily get the teacher off the subject he or she was teaching and on to their “favorite” subject whether it was the Vietnam war or something else.  This was the easy way out of having to listen to a boring lecture on some subject we didn’t like anyway.  For those of us going on to college, this was a disservice as we might be expected to have learned certain things before we took certain college classes.  This idea occurred to me when I was a high school student and I began to feel at least vaguely uneasy when some students would try to distract the teacher in this way.

Problems like this continued on into graduate school where some teachers, in what was supposed to be an overview of findings in a certain area, focused only on the research that they were interested in and/or agreed with.  Sometimes they were wrong and things that needed to be covered especially if you were going to eventually work in the general or applied field were not covered or were “proven” by them to not be scientifically based.  Even worse were the professors who during the “hippie” era decided to turn the class over to the control and direction of the students who were also usually allowed to assign their own grades as well.  Scarey?  I thought so at the time.  Fortunately I had some more responsible teachers whose insights into the subject matter they taught helped me discover things about the area studied that I would not have discovered by myself or in most classes taught in that area. Thank God for good teachers.

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How We Learn

English: Level/Time of competence when learnin...

Two things that can help us learn:  good teachers and connection of the content to something we have learned in the past.  Having had a lot of education experiences, I have experienced both and learning is a very frustrating experience when you don’t have either.

Having studied writing, drawing, sculpture, as well as many other things, I found that while the teacher may be a good writer, a good artist, or a good musician he or she may not be able to develop those talents in others.  I have taken classes in these subjects where I was to practice doing these things that the teachers were able to do very well.; but I got no instructions on basic techniques like the use of perspective in drawing or  how to use various media like watercolors, pastels, or acrylics.  I learned to play the piano with practice, but I was not taught music theory.  Currently I am singing in a choir and learning new things about chorus work from a director for the first time who knows everything about choral work and voice.   In psychology, I had an instructor who was very famous for her research in the area that the course was to cover.  She could not teach what she knew about her work.  It was a very frustrating experience to be in her class and we did not do very well on her exams in spite of the fact that we, her pupils, were graduate students in psychology who had to successfully compete against other applicants for our positions in our class at the big ten school.

I have had the experience of learning more about a subject that I had had the good fortune of having previously studied and it was easy to integrate new knowledge with old.  I have also floundered and struggled learning a subject that I had not heard about before. When a teacher gives examples and can integrate them with people’s everyday experience, it is much easier to learn a new subject. It is also true that some people have a knack for certain kinds of subjects. I never got the hang of calculus although I had done just fine in other math classes that had been required to be taken before it.

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