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The Role of the Teacher in Modern EducationBY: Guest User | Category: Education | Submitted: 2010-02-17 09:42:36
What is a teacher? When you ask this question to people, you will find that everyone has an answer. It makes sense; we have all grown up having teachers in our life. The other thing you will notice, however, is that people will have different definitions of a teacher. Even more telling will be the responses you get when you ask people who their favorite teacher was: teachers that teach to our individual learning styles will most often stick out in our minds as favorites.
Despite our experience in elementary school and beyond, the role of a teacher in modern education varies. Most of the time, a teacher is qualified based on his or her educational level as opposed to his/her teaching style and ability. This line of thought has something to do with our current tenure system. What hasn't been addressed, however, is what the role of a teacher is meant to be.
One philosophy of the role of teachers is based on the knowledge that a teacher imparts. This philosophy makes it easier to hire and oversee teachers because it is easy enough to gage the amount of knowledge that a teacher has in his/her subject of expertise or the amount of knowledge that has been learned by the students. It is also very pragmatic: if you are learning about math, it's easiest to learn how to add, subtract, multiply and divide. The problem with this style of teaching is that it leaves the "why" behind learning to the students, and often times, to chance.
Another philosophy of teaching that has received less attention from our culture is teaching based on encouraging thought. Put it one way, this is teaching students how to learn (as opposed to what to learn). This style focuses on training students to use their minds to think about an issue first. Then, once they have thought through the issue, they will be able to solve any problem that is set before them. This style of teaching often looks similar to imparting knowledge, but you will find students discussing the reason for their answers instead of just the answers themselves. One benefit that this style brings with it is the chance to pinpoint where a student has gone wrong and give them a reason why. This style of teaching will give a student the same addition problem, but will also have that student write out the reason why they gave the answer that they did.
This issue is important for teachers, students, and parents to understand because it impacts the style of learning that will be expected as well as the subjects that will be taught. For pragmatism's sake, many subjects don't need to have the "why" known. It is enough to know that "righty tighty and lefty loosey" will remind you which way to turn a screwdriver in a screw. However, it is helpful to know that this adage will ensure that the screw's threads will go the correct direction in order to be driven into the wood or taken out.
Perhaps the best style of teaching involves a balance of both of these teaching philosophies. If we are able to teach our children how to think early in life, we will give them the tools needed to make intelligent decisions throughout their school years.
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