"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thoughts on Teaching

Journal Thoughts on Teaching, Part 1

• If you’re not a good teacher, can you be a good chair?
• Being a chair will hurt the quality of your teaching.
• Good leaders and teachers tolerate and encourage students and employees to discover their own ideas and journeys.
• Leaders and teachers who try to make everyone agree and follow them, who want to clone their ideas, are neither good leaders or teachers. They are intellectually dishonest, and weak.
• Leaders and teachers are in the people business.
• The best teachers are both popular and demanding.
• Most of your students are forgettable. Concentrate on the good ones.
• Better a C student with passion than an A student who is boring.
• The worse student and employee is a know-it-all.
• If your students can’t or don’t challenge you, you probably don’t challenge them. And you’re insecure and probably not a good teacher.
• Not all good teachers teach the same way. But all good teachers like students.
• Just being organized and prepared doesn’t make you a good teacher. But being unprepared and unorganized will make you a bad teacher.
• When you’re talking, students probably aren’t learning or thinking. They learn and think when they’re discussing, and doing and asking you questions.
• Professors who try to mold students to follow their opinions are unprofessional. Students are not to be used for political purposes.
• Faculty who are afraid of student evaluations have good reason to be.
• Good teachers never are.
• Some good students and good professors won’t get along. Don’t take sides but treat each with respect. Schedule around or substitute to avoid personality conflicts.
• Failing a student should hurt. You will hurt.
• We must teach students to think, to observe, to gather information, to analyze and organize it, and to prepare to present it.
• We must teach students to adapt.
• Spoon feeding facts to anyone is not education.
• You have to stay as up to date as possible in your discipline. Being a chair makes it harder.
• Students are entering college with declining thinking skills.
• Commencement is one of the most enjoyable days for good teachers.

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