Friday, February 15, 2013

The Effective Teacher


Education activist John Hunter has gotten a lot of positive attention over his World Peace Game, a hands-on political simulation that encourages 4th grade students to attempt to address global problems. Many teachers who have seen his documentary, World Peace and Other 4th Grade Achievements, tend to judge their own merits as teachers. They focus more on Mr. Hunter's creativity and on what a great educator he is, with many of them questioning their own abilities as teachers. There is no doubt that Mr. Hunter is a very good teacher, but what my fellow educators must understand is that those things that make him a good teacher are the same things that they can utilize to maximize their own effectiveness as teachers. Let's take a look at a few of them.

First, Mr. Hunter's starting point is his own interest and passion. This ought to be our starting point as teachers. Mr. Hunter is personally interested in promoting peace; it has been his life's quest, and he brings this passion to the classroom. Teachers ought to begin with their own particular and unique interest, bringing their passion for that interest into the classroom, thereby infecting the students with their enthusiasm. Secondly, Mr. Hunter's instructional methodology is a problem-solving one.  He does not simply fill the students with information, a method of teaching that is all too common among teachers, instead he allows the students room to engage in problem solving, refusing to answer their questions and helping them to figure out the answers for themselves.  Thirdly, in Mr. Hunter's teaching there is a clear relationship between content and process.  Content is certainly important but not as the end; it is one of the means to achieving that end. But more important is the process which is driven by rigorous questioning, collaboration among students, provision of constant feedback, along-the-way skill building, and management of conflicts that might develop during the process.

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