The Art of Teaching: Best Practices from a Master Educator

By Professor Patrick N. Allitt

In this Teaching Company course, Professor Patrick N. Allitt, of Emory University, celebrates teachers and teaching, encourages teachers in their work, and demonstrates how they can carry it out more effectively.

Professor Allitt supplements his lectures with interviews with professors and students, and video clips of himself and other professors at work. About half of the course focuses on key skills: planning a course of studies, lecturing, leading discussions, coaching students on their writing and oral presentation skills, and evaluating student work. The rest deals with topics such as the student-teacher relationship, the teacher’s “persona,” and how to maintain one’s enthusiasm as a teacher. Professor Allitt is utterly convincing throughout, not least because he and his colleagues are superb teachers themselves, who obviously engage and challenge their students.

Refreshingly, Professor Allitt nowhere suggests that teachers should re-make themselves into “facilitators,” or that schoolwork should be replaced with “authentic” experience. He takes it as given that students will listen to lectures and watch demonstrations, read, take part in discussions, write essays, and take tests. He does not reject any entire category of teaching practice, including the much-vilified lecture. He values both the teaching of broad conceptual frameworks and ways of thinking, and the teaching of facts. He says that the teacher must be both “the guide by the side” and “the sage on the stage.” He confirms, in this, what most practicing teachers know well, but which they rarely hear acknowledged.

“The Art of Teaching” is a superb course, which will reward attention from novice teachers and veterans.

About Mark Bullock
Mark Bullock teaches History and English at Adam Scott C.V.I. in Peterborough.

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