The best teacher is the one who suggests rather than dogmatizes, and inspires his listener with the wish to teach himself. – Edward Bulwar-Lytton
What does that mean?
Lets start with a definition. Dogma is defined as an authoritarian set of principles, usually considered unassailable truth. So when the quote says that the best teachers avoid this, I believe that’s a good thing.
Instead, the quote believes that the best teachers will inspire their students to educate themselves on whatever the topic might be. This is also my belief, and has actually been my experience throughout life.
When you lecture on dogma, the students either get it, or they don’t. They either believe it, or they don’t. There is no curiosity, and learning is reduced to memorization. That’s not the best teaching has to offer.
The older the student, the more they must be engaged, the more they must find out for themselves. Today, with search engines and the internet, all that is needed is a little curiosity, and that is what a good teacher inspires in us.
Why is curiosity important?
There is an innate desire in most people to learn. It is vital to survival when we are young, but still useful throughout our entire lives. Whether it is learning a second language or figuring out how something works, curiosity is a very powerful force for learning.
How and Why are the main questions of curiosity. Just ask a young child. It sometimes appears those are the only words they know. But our curiosity helps to lead us to answers, skills, and pleasures we might not have otherwise known.
Yes, sometimes we get a little busy, and we cut back on the time we allow for curiosity. However, I have found that makes life pretty dull. Perhaps it is just me, but curiosity is a core part of my being, even today. Where would you be without curiosity?
Where can I apply this in my life?
The question is twofold, as we are both teachers and students for the duration of our lives. Babies teach us many things, and even the old continue to learn things, it truly never ends, unless you decide to quit. And that would be a shame, wouldn’t it?
As a teacher, how do we inspire others to want to learn? How do we peak their curiosity? How do we give them enough information to get them started, and then get out of their way? Take a moment and consider times in your life when you have been in the position to teach another.
How did that work? Did you tell them to sit still and listen while you told them what they should think? Or did you engage them in some manner? Was it interactive? Did you have props or displays or other items to help make the lesson more concrete and less abstract?
When I was still actively teaching Motorcycle Safety, we were teaching adults, and occasional teens. We could lecture them, but all that would do is get us paid. It wouldn’t stay with the adults very well, and they wouldn’t be very safe riders. I don’t think that’s a good plan.
Instead, we tried to get them to participate, to answer and discuss issues, questions, and obstacles. That (so I am told) is a much better way to instruct adults (learner centered). Yes, it takes some effort, and there are always quiet students, but it really works well, at least in my experience.
Now, what about as a student? Have you ever had a boring teacher for an interesting subject? Or perhaps something very specific caught your attention? At the other end of the spectrum was a teacher that made a subject you expected to be boring into a fantastic journey. Did you have that experience?
In High School, I took World History in summer school. I expected it to be dull and boring. Fortunately, the teachers were great, and even acted out some of the parts in corny little plays. I still remember the explanation of why the horse collar was such an improvement over using oxen to plow fields.
However you viewed the teacher, ultimately, it is your job as the student to learn. Some teachers make it easier, others make it harder. So what? It’s up to you to make it work for you, and learn the material. You can force yourself, or you can find something about which to be curious.
Why is the Marathon the length it is? Why else was that important to our modern world? How did it help make the return of the Olympics a big success? How much of it is based on faulty memories or messed up translations?
Can you muster even a little curiosity? Can you inspire a little curiosity in another? We can do both, if we decide to do so. The only question is how much time and energy you will devote to such efforts.
From: Twitter, @thequote
confirmed at : www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/e/edwardgbu108023.html
Photo by Kalle Schärlund
- The Role of The Teacher (chuzniemubarok.wordpress.com)
- Teaching Today: One Teacher’s Perspective from Hong Kong (expatteacherman.com)