Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Teachers as artists.

The artistry of creative teachers Posted by Hello

Isn’t it time that people in power realized that the real insights about teaching comes from the work of ‘master’ teachers. That teaching is more about the artistry and the craft of teaching, than following any prescribed approach.

The trouble is these days no one is even bothering to look for such teachers – and of course they are liable to be outsiders, mavericks and idiosyncratic. The very traits those who like to control things hate, but paradoxically, the very same traits required for progress in any field of endeavor.

How to create the conditions to ‘grow’ such thinkers and then to mine and share their ideas is the challenge? It could be as simple as visiting such teachers, observing what they do, and talking to them.

But first you have to find them. The trouble is many such teachers have learnt to keep their heads down and get on with 'doing their own thing' – and many just rely for emotional support through networks of like minds to share their creativity with.

The idea of artistry is well summed up by Lou Rubin 1985 when he comments:

‘there is a striking quality to fine classrooms. Students are caught up in learning; excitement abounds; and playfulness and seriousness blend easily because the purposes are clear, the goals sensible, and an unmistakable feeling of wellbeing prevails.

Artist teachers achieve these qualities by knowing both their subject matter and their students; by guiding the learning with deft control – a control that itself is born out of perception, intuition, and creative impulse.’

John Dewey wrote in 1929:

‘the successes of such individuals tend to be born and to die with them; beneficial consequences of such individuals extend only to those pupils who have personal contact with such gifted teachers.’

He continues:

‘the only way by which we can prevent such waste in the future is by methods which enable us to make an analysis of what the gifted teacher does intuitively, so that something accruing from his (or her!) work can be communicated to others.’

This hasn’t happened officially yet! Those in charge are more concerned with ‘teacher proof’ ideas, prescriptions, and accountability pressures, to save the day.

One day they will realize their role is about creating conditions, supplying resources, trusting schools and teachers, and getting out of the way – only becoming involved to help share innovative ideas that have power to assist others. Personalized learning requires personalized teaching.

Sharing the creative ideas of classroom teachers is the mission of our leading and learning site. Have you had a look at the ideas we have gathered?


Anonymous said...

You have made some important observations again and as you indicate identify a situation that has been noted by the more astute amongst us for many years. It seems certain elements of the educational hierarchy only see and hear what they want to, or worse still seem content with mediocrity.

Bruce Hammonds said...

I am always hoping that one day some one will realise that fostering creative teachers, no matter how awkward they might be, is the only way to really develop new ideas about teaching and learning.

Currently there is a blind faith in developing ideas by committee and 'delivering' them by contract . Efficient yes; effective , no! They say a committee, trying to develop a horse, ended up with a camel!