Sunday, December 23, 2012

To teach with educational tact...

Otto Salomon said, in the Theory of Educational Sloyd that "To teach with educational tact" is a principle to which "we attach great importance." He said, "Educational tact is an attribute of every real teacher, but one exceedingly difficult to define, and it has been said that, since it is incapable of definition, therefore it does not exist." He states further, "This tact is partly a natural gift, partly derived from experience, and partly the result of sympathy."

 In other words, he was describing teaching as an art in which the teacher is attuned to the speicific needs of each child. Tact according to the dictionary means "adroitness and sensitivity in dealing with others or with difficult issues." In other words, art.

 I have been thinking of the thrust of modern education in which the greatest part of the teaching responsibility is being gradually shifted from the teacher to the mechanized device. Arthur Clark had said that "Any teacher that can be replaced by a machine should be!" So does that mean that the teacher of the future will become more like the self-checkout help at the big box store? Or will the teacher persist in his or her traditional role of keeping students artfully engaged in learning?

Perhaps an answer will be found in Salomon's next principle of educational Sloyd, "to teach through the senses, especially touch and sight." Interestingly, tact and tactile are from the same Latin root tactus "touch, feeling, handling, sense of touch," from root of tangere "to touch" (see tangent). Meaning "sense of "discernment, diplomacy, etc." first recorded 1804, from a sense that developed in French cognate tact

Salomon described Sloyd as
"a means through which the pupil derives great advantage from the constant use of his faculties of observation and perception, through both sight and touch. This he cannot do so well when he sits a passive and patient listener to the dogmatic instruction of the teacher."

We will get better schools when we untie teacher's hands, and thence hold them to the highest standards. That of expressing tact.

Make, fix and create...


1 comment:

Jonas Jensen said...

I think that some teachers actually have this "extra" which is so hard to define. Those are the teachers that are able to maintain a good diciplin in the class,and the all the pupils respect even if they rarely raise the voice.
I don't think that it can be learned. If you don't have the skill, you can not get it.
But if you have the skill, then off course it can be trained and refined.
One teacher at my childrens old school was one of the few. He engaged an entire class in bee keeping. They processed the honey and made labels for the glasses, made calculations etc. and ultimately each of them got a jar of honey with them home, The rest of the honey was sold, and the profit went to the class field trip.
But it was interesting, that you could hear on the children talking, that these were great lessons no matter what subject he had to teach. Hopefully there will still be teachers like that, that are like beacons in a grey day at school.

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year
Jonas