Friday, April 06, 2007

The following thoughtful review of teachers is from Joe Barry, a former woodworking teacher:

I've been thinking about the teachers who I have admired and who became models for teaching.

In 7th grade I had a teacher who was extremely organized and pushed us to learn science at a level that allowed me to coast through college. He had an encyclopedic command of the material and set high standards. He communicated to us that he thought we were capable of performing at the required level and that he would not lower the bar.

My 9th grade history teacher encouraged me to read beyond the text book and the examine history in both the micro and macro perspectives and not just in the simplistic ways the text books dumbed it down to.

My high school cross country coach who never cut anyone from the team. If you showed up for practice every day you were a team member of the New England championship team even if all you offered the team was "depth"

There are two sergeants and one chief petty officer that I owe for showing me that 1. Responsibility can be given and lived up to; and 2. You can push yourself far beyond your perceived limits.

Two teachers in my undergraduate program in education that taught me that learning can be fun, self-directed and that mistakes are a natural part of the learning process. I learned that grades are only an indication of achievement and not a measure of worth or a competition between student and teacher. (The bell shaped curve is a horrible farce)

Three of the very patient Sensei's I have studied Aikido under have taught me that "beginner's mind" is the key to learning and success. To study the basics is to begin to master the advanced concepts.

I have tried to integrate these lessons in how I approached teaching so that I gave students responsibility, fun, challenging, and rewarding lessons.


Thanks Joe! One of the important things you bring up is the beginner's mind. It can be difficult to teach without some receptivity on the part of the student. One of the things I encounter is students saying, "I know that." One of the great things in the wood shop is that you can say, "Then show me." There is a difference between knowing something in the head, and knowing it in the hand and heart. And there is a difference between knowing something as a concept, and having the ability or skill to use what you know. If others want to contribute, please feel free to use the comment function on the site or send me an email using the link at right.

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