On Mon, 03 Mar 1997 16:07:04 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
I had written:
>>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.
>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.
First, I think that you will agree that he was exceptional. Secondly, in a most important sense he *did* know his subject: he knew his limitations, and he knew how to find out what he didn't know. Any teacher will have limitations in respect of subject knowledge; the good ones know what those limitations are.
Please don't confuse detailed factual knowledge with real understanding. I'd much rather have a teacher, especially at that level, who thoroughly understood a few fundamental principles than one who merely knew an encyclopaedia of facts.