Last week I posted thirteen postulates that represent a breakdown of my philosophy of teaching. I promised at that time to elaborate, qualification, and backpedal on each in subsequent posts. Here is the elaboration, etc., for #1.
1. Teaching is the human connection between persons that allows for the transmission of knowledge and skill–one mind touching another mind.
The personal nature of teaching and learning is one of the reasons why it is often so emotionally charged, and why the failure to connect is sometimes interpreted by those involved as rejection. The student may feel rejected when the teacher holds himself aloof. The teacher may feel rejected when the student seems distracted or bored. Both may feel alienated by the realities of institutionalized mass schooling. Professionalism and “best practices” can lead to a cool (though pleasant) equanimity on the part of the teacher, easily interpreted by the sensitive student as standoffish. Environmental and even geometrical factors may interfere. School buildings often seem factory- or even prison-like in their esthetics, and inadequate funding may lead to deferred maintenance and rundown decor. Classroom seating is arranged at right angles in columns and rows like account books, with clearly-defined and separate space for students and teachers. Under all these conditions, establishing the human connection is problematic. Often, it never takes place at all.
When it does, though, it is a satisfying experience for both parties. Juices are flowing, so to speak. The work and effort of each person is bringing rewards and “accomplishment feedback.” Art, literature, and music is filled with soaring and swooning blubbering over the human connection between two who are “in love”; I’m not sure there are many poems or songs that celebrate the communion between teacher and student. Maybe it sounds absurd to even suggest it.
[Here is the original article, “My Philosophy of Teaching” (opens in new window). For all the articles in this series, click on the Teaching Philosophy link below or under Categories to the right.]