>Given the (admittedly unpleasant) choice between a teacher who knows >his subject but isn't very good at imparting it and one who could >teach it splendidly if only he knew it, which would you choose? Yes, >it is certainly possible to know one's subject and be a poor teacher. >But it is impossible to be a good teacher *without* knowing one's >subject.
One of the best science teachers I ever worked with was not a scientist. He did have some knowledge of biology (the course which he taught), but he didn't know about most of the things I did coming recently from college. His knowledge of modern genetics was lacking, he knew little of the metabolic pathways that I was forced to memorize in my coursework, his understanding of evolution was 10 years out of date, etc. Yet, this same teacher, one who on this newsgroup might be described as "lacking the necessary knowledge to be an effective biology teacher," had students win and place in the top three in the Westinghouse Science Award (probably the most prestigious in the country), compete internationally with their studies, win a $100,000 dollar scholarship from AmEx for a forest study conducted by a team of 4 students, recieve 4's, 5's and 6's consistently on the AP biology exam, and get into some of the most prestigious universities in the country, including, Harvard, Stanford and Yale.
What was his secret? Simple, he knew how to teach. By this I mean, even if he didn't know the answer to something he knew how to get it or help a student find it. Many of the projects his students worked on required such specific knowledge of the subject that many of the professors at the local university had to defer to their colleagues. He knew how to motivate kids - the area he taught in was lower middle class and the kids were no different than most others in this country, yet he brought out the best in them. He was exceptionally creative and came up with projects and activities that challenged students to become responsible for their own learning. He didn't care if his studets learned mountains of trivial facts, he had the vision to see the big picture and the ability to get students to do the same.
Oh yes, his degree was in physical therapy from a small, public university with no name and he admitted himself that he floated through and was hardly a top student. So in response to the post above. I would take an exceptional teacher any day of the week over a poor teacher who "really knew the subject." I have seen students suffer at the hands of content experts and flourish under "teachers" who some might argue didn't know enough about the facts in their subject area.