Teachers And Teaching

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Teachers and Teaching is an apt title and description to follow.  I have read some of the comments about teachers, about UTC, and some defense. I plan on both defending and blaming institutions that train teachers. Both the schools and the students that attend are complicit. Let me explain. 

There are lots of teachers but only a few teachers know how to teach. There is a distinction and a very big one. There are, you all know this, the learned fella or lady in high school that kids laughed at. He/she knew subject matter and was an expert but could not teach kids. The difference being that the two terms are not synonymous. Teaching has been described as an art form and I am inclined to believe that more then content knowledge. Let me explain and this was mentioned in one of the responses in the Chattanoogan.

In a typical classroom, any classroom, the teacher will be faced with a myriad of personalities ..  The child brings his home to school every day. The good teacher knows that and further, knows the home situation. Let me explain that. If I was to be successful each school year I would make it part of my work to know both mom, dad, uncle, cousin Rudie and what each did for a living if applicable.  Ronnie Murray was his name. Ronnie Murray was his dad's name. Ron, Sr. had a body shop.  Mom worked along with dad each day. A few times on the way to or on the way home from school I would stop at the body shop and speak to one or both parents.  Dudley Stark,  West Point graduate and worked as an engineer at Kodak. Mom was a stay-at-home. There were three other children, all younger. Susan Stark was the oldest at 11. Susan was very bright. School work was easy for her so my challenge was to develop curriculum beyond the required 6th grade. That was an additional burden on my  part but I loved it.

Then there was Carl. Carl's dad was the building custodian.  Carl would come to school nearly every day sullen and sad, a withdrawn boy. At age 11, he was a loner. When I did an initial sociogram to determine social standing within the class Carl was not chosen by his peers. He wished to sit in the back of the classroom. For a period of time I let him.  

Teachers get curriculum guides showing content practice, pages to cover, questions and quizzes to give and basically the entire scope of expectation for the teacher's grade is written and basically followed day-to-day.  Those people that know how to read, how to follow directions written for them, how to present, to grade, all done by reading. The art form is how. The teacher that sits and teaches from the desk or stands in front of the class teaches but a real teacher is alive in that classroom. She/he moves about and keeps moving about asking questions, peeking at children's work, patting Sam on the back or reminding Joe to pick up his lunch box.

Is teaching easy? If it were I think a few would quit. It is the challenges that we face every day that keeps us coming back hoping to solve problems that are present and to ignore is to not be a teacher. The child that enters the grade at the beginning of the school year is not the same child at the end of the school year. That teacher that touches the lives of children is remembered; is often admire and further emulated. Carl might become a teacher or Susan might become a doctor. (actually she did). Ronnie chose not to join his father and instead went in the Marine Corps.  We do make a difference and we do so not because we graduated from UTC or Vanderbilt or in my case,  SUNY, Geneseo, New York we learned doing, experimenting, always asking how to get better and lastly, loving every minute and every year.

Robert Brooks

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