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Roboteacher? That's not how people learn... by Paddington

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In my 39 years of professional teaching and even longer coaching the martial arts, I experienced several ‘innovations’ in teaching, and observed many different styles of teaching, leading to some of the following thoughts:

There is such a thing as talent, whether or not it matches intelligence in academia. You cannot coach talent into someone. (Slide 9)

Ideas such as ‘bug-in-ear’ teaching (working from a script and pre-set collection of responses), or the ‘flipped classroom’ (watching videos at home, then coming to school to work with a teacher on problems) will never beat actual interactive teaching, which is a very human process.

There is a reason why we put the teacher at the front of the room, with the students facing them. They are, relatively speaking, the experts, and do know better. We are also a pecking-order species and respond to authority.

“Those who can’t do, teach” is a crass way of expressing a small truth. Very often, those to whom a subject or skill comes naturally very often have no way to communicate that skill to others, because they have not struggled with learning it.

Many of the people that I worked with spent far more time in preparation for lectures than I did, presenting polished material in a clear way. I developed and scribbled on the board, making mistakes as I went. My students often did much better, and I was certainly faster, often completing the full semester of material a couple of week early. Many of my colleagues kept trying to have every student catch up, and ended up boring the accomplished ones, and still not educating the others.

Most of what is taught in Colleges of Education is pedagogy, with the concept that a well-trained teacher can teach anything, including material that they don’t know. This is plainly ludicrous.

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