– — Eak Prasad Duwadi
Is teaching an art? Well, I think teaching is a complicated network of acts, a verity to which anyone who stands in front of learners can readily verify. In his renowned book, The Art of Teaching, Highet (1989) argues teaching is an art, not a science. He also claims teaching is like painting a picture and that it cannot be thoroughly evaluated.
One distinguished teacher takes the neutral stance. He believes the systematic study of teaching over the years supports the notion that good teaching is as much a science as an art. However, many people still regard knowledge of the subject matter as the major prerequisite to effective teaching. On the other hand, various researches report about faculty members becoming more aware that successful teachers are knowledgeable in their subject matter, teaching strategies, and learning theories and are committed to individual learning.
There is no consensus on what good teaching is, and how to best evaluate the goodness of it. Probably there never will. For instance, In Nepal, especially in private schools, one’s capability to maintain absolute silence in the classroom is regarded as the mark of his success as a teacher. This is to say, the notion of effective teaching is expected to involve more than a teacher’s command of the subject matter. But one eminent educator opines that teaching requires as much the knowledge of content as the awareness of general pedagogy, core curriculum, learner characteristics, educational contexts, and educational ends and values. In fact, the general practice of maintaining classroom silence does not feature anywhere in the literature of effective teaching.
Good teaching is the ability to make particular concepts of a discipline/subject perceptible to a group of learners. A common argument is that good teaching should be deﬁned in terms of student learning. And there are cautionary remarks as well, such that the teacher’s role must not be minimized. However, the most teachers assert that effectiveness should be based on “learning-centered evaluation,” where teaching is evaluated in the context of the learning goals of a speciﬁc course. This focuses on the relationship between teaching objectives, actual teaching practices, and the actual learning outcomes.
In his book The Courage to Teach, Palmer (1997) suggested that “good teaching cannot be reduced to technique: good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher.” Identity and integrity will develop when teachers attempt to eliminate academic debates and speak about who they are as teachers. Only at this point will an emphasis on good teaching become part of a departmental culture. One way to engage faculty members in discussions of “who they are” as teachers, are course portfolios.
One thing most teachers all over the world agree is that “good teaching is a matter of hard work, discipline, determination, and the intense moments or hours of glee.”
Highet, G. (1989). The art of teaching. London: Vintage.
Palmer, P. J. (1997). The courage to teach: Exploring the inner landscape of a teacher’s life. Toronto: Jossey-Bass.