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email@example.com wrote: : Brian M. Scott wrote: : : >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of the metabolic pathways that I was forced to memorize in my coursework, : his understanding of evolution was 10 years out of date, etc.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. : : Mike V. : Mike:
I agree with you. But, keep in mind that the person you describe is a rare bird, definitely the exception. I personally think it is essential (with the very rare exception that you've mentioned) that the instructor be knowledgeable in that subject area. However, that is hardly sufficient. In graduate school I had a number of professors who held "Distinguished Chair" positions. One of them was the worst excuse for a teacher I ever had. He STUNK (pardon the vernacular). But, he was a very famous mathematician.
-- Mel Billik in Michigan Remember: if you can keep your head about you when all around you are in a panic ... perhaps you don't totally understand the situation!