If one wishes a subject to be taught with maximal effectiveness, he should:
#3. Teach it with minimal altitude (prestige).
Any good teacher will tell you that teaching isn’t about showing off how smart you are or making sure that your students respect you because you have multiple degrees and they don’t. Teaching is about helping others learn – imparting knowledge in a way that they can understand, can participate in and ultimately so they can demonstrate competence in using that knowledge for benefit in their own lives.· Do not assume importance merely because of a knowledge of the subject.
My high school calculus teacher was brilliant. Nerdy, but brilliant. He spent his summers writing our math books because he felt the existing math curriculum wasn’t as effective as it could be. He was knowledgeable, competent and completely unassuming – his objective was solely on how to best help his students learn tough concepts so they could apply them logically and successfully. He measured his importance by how well his students were doing in math and not by how much he knew about math.· Do not diminish the stature of the student or his own prestige because he does not know the subject.
It kind of goes without saying, but making less of someone because they do not know about something, does not actually help them to know – it usually just makes them feel bad. The Spelling Bee Champ floundering in geography is still an exceptional speller. Their brilliance in one area will inevitably spill over into other areas – with patience and encouragement.· Stress that importance resides only in individual skill in using the subject and, as to the instructor, assume prestige only by the ability to use it and by no artificial caste system.
Having knowledge about something isn’t the same as demonstrating effective skill to put that knowledge to use. Information is not the same as action. Perfect exam scores do not automatically translate into competence of practical application. Knowing the theory of how to read a map is very different from actually having to use one to successfully navigate your way out of the wilderness. As long as data is stressed to be the most important factor in learning, students will always be lacking in skill and ability in using information to actually solve the problems encountered in life.
Brilliant teachers are brilliant because they are able to raise the ability level of their students, not just their grade point averages.
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