Sunday, April 15, 2007

Explore Your World

Category: Issue 6, Mind Change Winners

The art of teaching is difficult to master, if easy to put to financial use.  It’s easy to become a teacher and earn money teaching, but the room for improvement is always there.  To be extreme, since I enjoy finding the logical extremes, I would say that a perfected art of teaching can create a successful human being by interacting with a newborn infant for a few seconds as soon as it emerges from its mother.  That is a task I don’t expect to ever be accomplished, but it illustrates my idea of perfecting your teaching skills.

My theory is that a teacher’s success can be measured by the amount of time required to put the student into a state where leaving the student alone is finally the best method of increasing his or her comprehension and knowledge.  Those who have read what I have written before might recall my quest for a sentence that frees the mind; a single sentence that could propel its readers along a trajectory which gives them the knowledge and understanding that they need to live a happy and successful life.

Most teaching occurs because a learner is interested in a subject and a teacher is willing to entertain the learner’s questions.  Sadly, this isn’t the general rule in school.  But those who wish to learn and are taught what they wish to learn do so primarily because their desire coincides with the availability of a willing teacher’s time - usually a parent.  Applying my theory of improved teaching methods, the best answer to a question is the one that explains how the asker can find the answer, and the shorter, the better.  If the asker already knows that asking the teacher is their best bet, then the best answer is simply accurate and concise, but encourages further exploration.  I do this with my kids, but I go on a bit too much.

Some teaching occurs despite the learner’s resistance to the teaching.  This is the kind of teaching to which my theory can be more usefully applied.  The teacher has a small window of opportunity to catch the attention of the student and use it to put the student into a state of curiosity.  If you’ve read this far, then you are not the kind of student that provides only this small opportunity.  However, those who stopped after the first sentence or paragraph are, and I hope that paragraph increased their curiosity.  If it can be improved, please let me know how.

Posted by Dave Scotese on 04/15 at 06:56 PM | Permalink
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