In Education, sometimes less is more I used to teach a course on Public Speaking. It took me three years to figure out how to properly organize and deliver the course. I think I finally did it right in the third year. The trick was to abandon my teacher ego (a subject for a future post), get out of the way, take care of administrative and secretarial necessities of the course, and allow the students to perform and to educate each other—as much as I could (which was never easy for me). A majority of the students who took this course were from the Faculty of Education and consequently destined for careers as educators. One message I passed on to all the students, especially those planning to become teachers: avoid irony. Every Joke has a victim This is very complicated advice because if you ask students to list the five features they appreciate in teachers, a “sense of humour” is bound to appear consistently in the list. (Here is another issue that I suspect teach
Showing posts from May, 2013
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"Do no harm" It was always my intention and ambition as a teacher to honour the basic tenant of the Hippocratic Oath : “Do no harm.” It sounds simple enough, and I assume most teachers feel as I do, but for people with sadistic impulses the classroom must seem like a tempting playground. Since the oath was intended for doctors, much of what it proposes would not apply to teachers, but even some of its tenants like honouring gods and mentors, not using a knife on patients, and not providing abortions seem odd promises even for ancient Greek doctors. On the other hand, the proscription of having sex with patients or revealing their confidences could and should also be applied to teachers with their students. (These proscriptions, in my mind, go hand and in hand, and will be discussed in a future post.) "Spare the rod and spoil the child" But I’ve never been able to get passed the basic “Do no harm.” It is a burden and a challenge for any teac
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What does "education" mean? Teachers, past, present and future, and students, it's time to blow the whistle. Complaints and confessions are needed. Name any problem--crime, depression (economic and psychological), sexism, racism, drug abuse, the breakup of marriages and families, etc, etc--and someone has already proposed that "education" is the solution. Does anybody ever stop to consider what these specialists (politicians, administrators, sociolgists, ecologists, psychologists, pedagogues and functionaries) mean by "education"? New myths for old The world renowned literary theorist and educator, Northrop Frye, described education as the process of getting rid of old myths, in order to replace them with new ones. Frye was a great believer in "myth," so his declaration isn't quite as cynical as it sounds. So let me play the cynic, although as you might guess, like most cynics, I'm really just a slightly bruised idealist.