Sunday, February 28, 2010

Good Teaching: Critics and Aspiring Critics

Lately I have been considering what good teaching actually entails. There is much talk among my colleagues about who is and is not a good teacher, and what strategies and inclinations he or she uses to facilitate good teaching, or how he or she fails miserably at the task. And yet, with all of this humming from the teacher commentariat, I am not convinced that teachers can adequately decide who teaches well and who does not. The students, on the other hand, seem to have the knack for judging teachers' mettle. Now, to be fair, some teachers are seen favorably by students plainly for giving very little work and grading lightly and infrequently. Those are exceptional, however. Though I do not want to overhear students' comments about fellow teachers, I usually do. The comments consistently reflect what I would naturally assume to be the style and temperament of the teacher being commented on. Students know who is a good teacher and who is not a good teacher. Why? They are the consumers after all, and consumers decide what works best for them. One hopes they will digest slowly.

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