Experts make the best teachers

Posted on March 6, 2011

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There is an interesting post by Worst Professor Ever arguing that experts in the field are not necessarily the best teachers.

This is an argument I agree with to an extent – and seems to be in direct contrast to the thinking of education ministers in the UK, with the conservatives keen on only allowing those with a 2.2 degree to go on to teach.

The ability to acquire knowledge and the skills needed to deliver some of it to a troupe of angsty teenagers are totally different.

Many of my teachers, current and past, can claim quite correctly that they are vastly experienced in their field of expertise.

But the challenge to deliver it in a way that is accessible to students is one that is not always met.

Right now, on a masters course that boasts for being one of the best in the country, many of my tutors rely on osmosis to transfer knowledge – not wholy reliable imho!

There’s good and there’s great

Good teachers are individuals who can meet the needs of each child, pupil and student, relating information to their lives.

The very best teachers are the ones we have all experienced from time to time. Those rare cases of the expert who holds deep caverns of knowledge in a particular area, who is also able to teach.

My experience

My favourite English lecturer was a man I only had the pleasure of being taught by for one module.

It was Rennaisance literature, in itself not exactly stimulating for everyone. But his style of delivery allowed for him to take huge tangeants, explore concepts through discussion on all areas of literature and history.

For this reason it was a pleasure to be in his company, to be able to appreciate his overwhelming enthusiasm.

So whilst I agree that purely being an expert does not make for a good teacher, I believe the very best are.

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Posted in: The Odd Box