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Topic: What You Never Learn in Methods Courses
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
What You Never Learn in Methods Courses
Posted: Sep 10, 1998 4:51 PM
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From NCTM News Bulletin, September, 1998, Vol.35, No.2, p.5

"What You Never Learn in Methods Courses"

[Note: The excerpt below is from James F. Marran, emeritus chairman of the
social studies department at New Trier High School in Winnetka, Ill., and
was reprinted with permission from Marran and Education Week (vol.17, no.
1,3 September 1997).]

Every teacher education program in every college and university should
create a course called
"Other," where the syllabus will examine the axioms of what all present
programs forget to tell teacher candidates. These are what every new
teacher learns in that first tedious and traumatic year where, in the best
of circumstances, the excitement, engagement, passion, and challenge of
learning the traditions of teaching unfold. In the "Other" course,
teachers would learn:

… That a teacher cannot be all things to all people.
… That they are not "bad people" if they are not always able to meet all
the needs of all their students.
… That they are powerful and compelling figures in the lives of their
… That in recalling their school years, students mostly remember their
teachers, not the courses they
… That they need to find a "critical friend" whom they can trust to serve
as their sounding board.
… That at times students can be very cruel, difficult, and mean-spirited.
… That it is a mistake to personalized a student's unacceptable behavior.
… That teachers love their students as their parents love them--but in a
different way and for a
different reason.
… That few people will ever appropriate the amount of time and effort
teachers give to their teaching.
… That by choosing to be teachers, they have entered an emotionally
dangerous profession.
… That they are both role models and change agents.
… That they need to pay attention to both their physical and their
emotional well-being.
… That teaching is not like inducing a chemical reaction, but more like
creating a painting, or planting
a garden, or writing a friendly letter.
… That teaching is a complicated business because students are such
unexpected blends of character,
personality, and background.
… That most of the significant advances in civilization have been the
result of the work of teachers.
… That teaching is an act of faith in the promise of the future.
… That teaching is a way of life.

Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618)453-4244
Phone: (618)453-4241 (office)

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