Posted by: crudbasher | August 13, 2010

What the Best Teachers Do

What is it that great teachers do that makes them the most effective?  It’s not that they are efficient conveyors of information. It’s that they collaborate with their students, thus making them stakeholders in their own learning.  It’s lighting the fire for knowledge.

I was thinking about this recently.  I don’t yet have children but hope to have some soon.  I had been a bit awkward around young kids but my wife set me straight.  I would try to teach the kids the right way to do things and correct them when they make mistakes.  However, my wife said to me “Sometimes the grass doesn’t have to be green”.  This of course referred to coloring but really what it means is to let the young kids just figure things out.  We don’t have to keep them on the “correct” path, we can let them experiment.  That’s what is so magical about watching young kids learn, they don’t have any preconceptions and they have a joy of learning.

As Ken Robinson famously said, at some point we remove the joy from school.  Learning should be a wonderful experience.  If we setup a classroom environment correctly, it can be even in college.  With all the capabilities for learning and research inherent in a laptop, let’s make the students a partner in their own learning, and they will become engaged and motivated.

This article is fabulous, and well worth reading the whole thing!

  • Great article about student engagement

    tags: education highered nell profound

    • Challenging students to think, which most academics would say is at the core of their job, is being lost beneath the twin tides of consumer satisfaction and the pressure to produce obedient employees.
    • Everyone teaching in a university should want to bring ideas, facts and principles to life in a way that will encourage their students to find out more for themselves.
    • A university education is nothing if it does not ignite a burning desire to learn.
    • Skilful teaching, by teachers who apply their learning with imagination, can inspire students to do more than they ever thought they could.
    • Teaching in higher education should never fool students into thinking there is an easy path to success. Rather, it should make the hardest road enjoyable to follow by communicating complex ideas clearly and succinctly.
    • We need curricula that captivate students: ones that are transdisciplinary, extend them to their limits, develop their skills of enquiry and research, and enable them to find resources of courage and flexibility that cross international boundaries.
    • To improve the student experience, we must get the basics right and not make them seem trivial – they are not. Then we must get on with the much tougher task of making the subject so exciting that students will keep coming back for more.
    • people ask me if you can tell whether a department or a programme offers an excellent student experience – as I have described it – by some simple test. I think you can.
    • the students I interviewed would sometimes talk about how they saw it as their job to work with staff to improve the quality of teaching and the experience that future students would enjoy. They felt a responsibility to get involved
    • The modern phrase for this is “student engagement”, which sounds a bit formal to me. It’s more like an acceptance that we are jointly accountable for quality.
    • Far too often we fail students by producing graduates who are good at learning facts and solving commonplace problems. They don’t throw themselves with passion into their studies. They wander feebly through their assessments by faithfully repeating what they have heard and read. This is a very poor kind of student experience.
    • Insight, energy and imagination make higher education higher. This is the authentic standards issue: we risk not demanding enough from our students and being comfortable with their possessing only bits and pieces of knowledge. Knowledge is a necessary step towards good judgement, but it does not take you far enough on its own. Self-critical awareness of one’s own ignorance is the only true precursor of further enquiry.
    • There are two secrets to cracking the problem of helping students who are not being challenged to become critical thinkers: scholarship and leadership.
    • Scholarship is an all-embracing term for research and the active reinterpretation of knowledge that goes beyond systematic empirical enquiry to the enlivening of imagination.
    • the researchers who were good at teaching – who went about it by focusing on students and their learning (rather than their own teaching performance or transmitting information) – were not those who necessarily produced the most research. They were the ones who focused on the underlying structure of their investigations, on the broad conceptual framework of their subject, rather than isolated individual problems within it – the ones who were scholars in their discipline.
    • Higher education needs people who are scholars in their disciplines rather than narrow specialists.
    • Higher education works best when it is a partnership between students, their teachers and learning.
    • The rationale for university teaching is not satisfying students, distributing information to them nor changing them, as some condescendingly say. Rather, it is enabling students to change for themselves.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.



  1. Master teachers are master learners, and engage in the learning process with students showing them what it looks like to be a stakeholder in their own education. Great article, thanks for sharing it!

    • That is one of the main reasons I think tenure isn’t a good thing. It can mean you don’t learn anymore. I do really like the article too. Thanks for commenting!!

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