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Teaching and Learning Are Not the Same Thing

Teaching and Learning

I don’t how often you have asked a teacher why they got into teaching, but all too often I hear, “Because I love kids.” Well, that’s a good reason to get into daycare, but hardly a good reason to get into teaching. It hardly surprising that our school boards think throwing money at the education problem will solve it. Teaching is a skill distinct from liking people or intellectual ability—although it’s good to possess both to be an effective teacher. Sadly, while teachers should be teaching (and many wish they were), too many find themselves babysitting. Make no mistake, this happens in the workplace too.

Over 160 years ago, Horace Mann, American educator and founder of the first school for teacher education in the United States (1839), wrote, “The ability to acquire and the ability to impart are wholly different talents. The former may exist in the most liberal manner without the latter.”

The ability to acquire is the power of understanding the subject manner of investigation. Aptness to teach involves the power of perceiving how far a scholar understands the subject matter to be learned, and what in the natural order, is the next step he is to take. It involves the power of discovering and of solving at the time the exact difficulty by which the learner is embarrassed. The removal of a slight impediment, the drawing aside of the thinnest veil which happens to divert his vision is worth more to him than volumes of lore on collateral subjects.

How much does the pupil comprehend of the subject? What should his next step be? Is his mind looking toward a truth or an error? The answer to these questions must be intuitive in the person who is apt to teach.

Aptness to teach includes the presentation of the different parts of a subject in a natural order. If a child is told that the globe is about 25,000 miles in circumference before he has any conception of the length of a mile, the statement is not only utterly useless as an act of instruction but it will probably prevent him ever afterward from gaining an adequate idea of the subject. The novelty will be gone, and yet the fact unknown. Besides, a systematic acquisition of a subject knits all parts of it together, so that they will be longer retained and more easily recalled. To acquire a few of the facts gives us fragments only; and even to master all the facts, but to obtain them promiscuously, leaves what is acquired so unconnected and loose that any part of it may be jostled out of place and lost, or remain only to mislead.

He who is apt to teach is acquainted, not only with common methods for common minds but with peculiar methods for pupils of peculiar dispositions and temperaments; and he is acquainted with the principles of all methods whereby he can vary his plan according to any difference of circumstances.

In the workplace, as well, we would be wise to remember that teaching is an art that must be adapted to the students learning patterns and by those with an aptitude to teach. In both our schools and workplaces, we need to enable students to learn and teachers to teach. Next we will take a look at the thoughts that one of the most insightful thinkers of our time wrote on teaching, 128 years after Horace Mann.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:12 AM
| Comments (0) | This post is about Education



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