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What makes a good teacher?


Severian
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I am currently doing a postgraduate degree in teaching. I am finding myself almost constantly disagreeing with our 'teaching experts' (mainly because they don't seem to understand what science is) so I am interested in other people's opinions.

 

So, what makes a good teacher?

 

In particular, how should one go about teaching undergraduate physics? (inc. lectures, tutorials, labs, online learning, or just any great innovative ideas.)

 

For example, in last year's lectures I tried usual a 'public response system'. I gave all the students electronic handsets at the start of the lecture and occasionally I would ask them a multiple choice question (usually a fairly easy but slightly wierd physics problem). They would use the handets to answer (an bit like 'Who wants to be a millionaire') and I would show a graph of what people answered. I am not sure how helpful it was but it did seem to wake tham up now and again.

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Some unsorted thoughts to what I consider a good lecture(rer):

 

- Making clear what-for the current stuff is done. That might be a special problem of mine, because I have the tendency to immediately forget stuff I do not consider important (e.g. I usually tend to forget the names of people introduced to me within a few seconds if they are not interesting for me at the time of introduction). Two examples:

* Sadly, it is a habit to justify dealing with some theory/concept/technique by saying "it´s needed for QM which you will learn next year". That tells me (the student) absolutely nothing other than "be a good boy and learn it because I tell you to". I think it would be nice to always have a good reason at hand to justify why the current topic is important/interesting.

* As a special case, take pertubation theory. Ususally, introductions to it start by directly jumping in and Taylor-expand the hamiltonian and then getting to whatever results. For me as a student, this signals that the whole thing is just an approximation usefull for special cases and that there´s no physics to be learned there *turns brain off*. What no one ever bothered to say is the importance of pertubation theory due to being sufficient to get informations on the underlying physics (physics we do not know by yet and still try to explore) and especially because we simply cannot treat many-particle qm systems up to today other than with pertubation theory (or other ways like DFT which also is an approximation).

Admittedly, the more advanced the lecure is, the more difficult the "what it is good for"-part might become and the problem with explaining it is not limited to lectures. When I asked a solid state physicist why they are growing single crystals and make measurements on them, I almost always get the answer "because they have interesting magnetic properties" ... without a "... like the XYZ which ... ".

 

- There´s the tendency to show some theorem or calculation rule in the lecture and then let the students proof them as a homework. Oh how I hate that. If the proof really interests me, then I can look it up myself. Other than that, I usually don´t need the proof at all. I need to know the calculation rule and need to know its validity range and where it´s due to apply. Much better to let the students practice using that rule on (ideally even physical meaningful) examples. I read that "proof it as a homework" as "I am to lazy to think about good examples". People should do calculations in their homework to get used to the topic, not spend their time with proof they will have forgotten a week later, anyways.

 

- Lecture and homework imho should be as easy as possible (but of course as complex as nessecary) and be a good base to start own investigations on, even if it might mean to overstep some possible difficulties (but they should be mentioned, of course). Iirc, I found your lecture notes quite good considering that point.

 

- A lecturer I had had the very nice habit that at the beginning of each lesson he would make a short repeat of what was done in the previous lecture in a sketchy way perhaps using some other notation or way of explanation. I really liked that and it´s one of the few of my lecture notes that I sometimes take a look into today.

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You actually got the PRS system to work? Holy shit, how?! We've had it here for years and it *still* doesn't work properly!

 

What I find makes the *most* difference is enthusiasm. A teacher can be a Nobel Laureate, but if it's obvious they don't want to be teaching, or if they've been stuck teaching something only distantly related to their field. No teaching technique in the world short of buying hookers for the whole class will save you if you lack enthusiasm.

 

Mokele

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I agree with Mokele. It really doesn't matter how brilliant a person is, if they have no enthusiasm for getting the principles across to others, especially those who have no experience in their field (because they have to 'dumb down', which they find boring), then it just doesn't work.

 

I believe that teaching courses, whilst teaching sound practice; methods and means of imparting information, can't teach the most important ingredient, which is a function of personality.

 

Some of the best teachers I know can enthuse the whole lecture group by force of personality. With these individuals, it's not even that important that they are expert in their area (although fortunatley, they are). A good teacher who is not expert in the area can still teach more of what they do know than a poor teacher who is expert.

 

Personally, I use a combination of fear and smarties, which also seems to work :)

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You any of you mind if I quoted you in my 'portfolio'?
Nope, if you don't mind joining my 'being called a dribbling idiot' club, which often happens to people who quote me.

 

I own copyright on the 'fear and smarties' model of teaching though!

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That handset thing, sounds good fun & interactive etc. I don't know how much it will actually teach, but it will, as you say, wake people up, get there attention and allows you to check they know the answer. It sounds a good idea for checking people are awake and know the answer, not as a teaching tool by itself.

 

One of my chemistry teachers likes to make a few students stand up and e.g. pretend to be a lattice. Making tall people pair up and short people pair up, representing how larger anions for a stable lattice with larger cations and smaller anions with smalled cations. It sounds a bit childish and, to me, it doesn't stick in my head, but it is certainly a good way to get the theory across, I then remember the theory (not the 'practical') - but the practical in itself is an easy way to portray a message.

 

And don't make homework too hard. Make the start as easy as is sensible, then get slightly harder and then make the hardest an optional, something to look over and think about and to do if the student wants, something which really stretches you and gives room for thought.

 

Also a nice interesting experiment never goes a miss. For example when learning about electromagnetism you can make a standard electromagnet, place a metal loop thing around it so when you turn the electromag on the ring jumps off. Now if you place the ring in liquid nitrogen it cools down -> lower resistance -> (simplified) it jumps higher. This might be obvious, but I was a bit shocked at quite how much the height difference was. I was expecting it to go higher. But not that high and not that quickly. It was an interesting ending to a lecture.

 

And sure you can quote this, but you will have to check with my lawyer regarding the legal implications! ;)

 

PS. Feel free to quote - no strings attached!

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A good teacher shows passion and enthusiasm for the subject that they are teaching. There is nothing worse than monotone teachers reading of the lecture notes. When a teacher starts lecturing you can tell weather they truly enjoy what they are teaching. This greatly affects the students, or at least myself. I remember when I had a lecture on Evolution in Biology and the teacher spoke with so much passion and knowledge that I did not want to leave ( and I actually listened to the audio of that lecture a couple of times). On the other hand, when I was doing genetics, and equally fascinating subject, I was asleep half way through, the teacher showed no passion or interest in the subject. He didn’t walk around and demonstrate, with hand actions, the subject matter. He just read the lecture notes on his laptop.

 

I also like a teacher who gets the students involved by asking questions. It keeps me alert during the lecture and it really helps me remember. Good interaction is definitely important.

 

But most of all a good teacher should give the students the time of the day. I always like to approach my professors about a recent book iv read, or something that on my mind. The difference between a teacher who cares and one who doesn’t is self evident in the look they give you.

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  • 3 months later...

Good teaching has a lot of qualities, but it depends on what information you are trying to convey. I do not know a lot about physics; I am a History/Special Ed major, but there are a few techniques I value.

 

First, if you are a highschool professional, I would recomend combining both formative and cumulative sumative evaluation methods. Essentially, it's important to test material at periodic lesson-based intervals as well as at the end of a unit. In the former case, you are able to evaluate what the students understand after and during your lecture, which prepares you for a form of critical reflection of your own lecture practice.

 

Naturally, I assume you already know what unit testing is. Some teachers only rely on that to make key changes in their lecture method. I don't support that though alone.

 

2. It's also important to get your students interested; show you care. This involves not looking like you couldn't care less in class about being asked questions. It also involves staying after for those who want or need help. At least acting like you care promotes self-esteem of the student without being wishy-washy in promoting self-esteem (like in grading).

 

3. From a methodological approach, I recomend "FRICNF." Essentially, you want to make use of flexibility, reflection, individualization, caring attitudes, natural supports, and something else I can't remember right now. =D The idea is that you want to use differentiated instruction and UDL.

 

In differentiated Instruction and UDL you want to modify the curriculum as much as possible to make it accessible. A good way to do this is to make note of learning styles and try to be flexible in your ability to account for learning styles in your lesson. For instance, vary the medium by which you relay information and try to use multiple formats. It really does help with people who have different combinations of kineasthetic, audio, visual, and tactile learning styles.

 

As well, flexibility can manifest in the means of engagement of students. To make the motivated to learn and spice up your lecture, give students a choice in assignments, grouping, activity, and evaluations. Now, this doesn't mean they make up the stuff. You choose ultimately before hand the types of variation form which they will get to choose.

 

Use peer natural supports; this means apply grouping intelligently. It is often good to pair the more intelligent students with the lesser achievers. In most studies, it doesn't negatively affect the higher achievers and does benefit the lesser achievers. Group work on projects can be useful if you combine group incentives as well as individual incentives.

 

Allow students to work together in class and at home, and give them opportunities to do this; they need to learn how to collaborate, because that's what happens in real life.

 

I also do support Direct Instruction, but not for an entire lecture. Mix it up. Allow for experimentation guided by the teacher, but combine it with lecture, demonstration, discussion (questions). THen have kids go off in groups and discover using the scientific method. They have to learn how to apply information and develope/test hypotheses, especially in your field. I find this is often overlooked in most highschool science courses.

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Use peer natural supports; this means apply grouping intelligently. It is often good to pair the more intelligent students with the lesser achievers. In most studies, it doesn't negatively affect the higher achievers and does benefit the lesser achievers.

 

See, I strongly disagree with that, as in every group I've ever been in, I've been faced with either doing 90% of the work myself, or letting the morons assigned to me drag my grade down. Worse still, said morons *know* I won't let them drag my grade down, so they know they can just let me do everything. *That*, IMHO, is why it seems to not adversely affect smart students, but to help 'slow' ones: because the smart ones do all the work, and the slow ones just leech off it.

 

Mokele

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A perfect example of how not to lecture is the way my thermodynamics lecturer works.

 

1. first thing he said to us was "Now, thermo dynamics is not a popular course" in a flat monotone. ooo inspiring ... NOT!

 

2. he hands out a sheet of questions and expects us to spend the first half of the lecture doing them and then talks about how you solve the questions in the second half. even then he doesn't do a very good job.

 

I think the tutorial questions in the lecture have potential but it would also cut heavily into the lecture time. not so good if there is a lot of material to cover.

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See, I strongly disagree with that, as in every group I've ever been in, I've been faced with either doing 90% of the work myself, or letting the morons assigned to me drag my grade down. Worse still, said morons *know* I won't let them drag my grade down, so they know they can just let me do everything. *That*, IMHO, is why it seems to not adversely affect smart students, but to help 'slow' ones: because the smart ones do all the work, and the slow ones just leech off it.

 

Mokele

 

Well, I said intelligent grouping. Your teacher is obviously lazy if he allows people to sponge off of others. I used to have that problem in highschool too, and it usually occured when there were no individual incentives for achievement. What he ought to do is give both group and individual incentives for participation.

 

You certainly are right in that some people will take advantage of groups if the teacher is lazy. I don't believe in "group grades." I believe in team work, but individual accountability. People will either work on the team, or they won't pass. You wouldn't be responsible for them not doing something. The key is assigning group assignments, but with individual tasks that count as the individual grade under that assignment. I assign group work teams, but individual grades and bonus points if they work together, but if one person says someone slacked, there are no bonus points for that individual.

 

I like to use the smarter kids to scaffold the "dumber" kids, but I wouldn't advocate splitting and never returning to the group (as the teacher). It doesn't have to be in class. It can be a form of peer tutoring as well or group study.

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Group grading only works if each member of the group gets to submit a closed grade for each group member. That way, if you are in a group where you did 90% of the work, you will note that only 10% of the work was done by the others in a closed, sealed, private report between you and the professor only. If it open, you could get pressured to say everyone worked on it, but if closed you can honestly report that the others did nothing.

 

In terms of what makes a good teacher, I think it is one who makes sure that students with all different learning styles are included. There are some students who like to see the derivation, there are some that like to see examples, there are some who like to see the end product. For example, consider a civil engineering class that is learning how to construct a dam. One the one hand, the mathematically inclined students will enjoy seeing where and how to apply the appropriate equations, whereas the hands-on students would love to see a presentation from an engineer that helped coordinate a dam construction job 10 years ago, or better yet a field trip out to a construction site.

 

A good teacher knows how to involve all the different kinds of learners. It is an unfortunate truth that too many professors concentrate on the kind of learners that they themselves are. The reason is simple, that is the way the professor knows it, and he/she really connects with the students that learn it the same way. But, the really good ones go out of their way to make sure all types are accommodated. It may be very uncomfortable for the professor the first few times going outside of their preferred method, but the really great ones do.

 

This is really a summary of Kolb's learning cycle. ( see https://engineering.purdue.edu/ChE/News_and_Events/Publications/teaching_engineering/chapter15.pdf for example ) Kolb theorized that the way to make sure that a fact is 100% in the student's brain is to perform all the different ways of knowing something. I.e. do both the hands on approach and the derivation and apply the equation. But, since each student has a preferred way of learning, they enter the cycle at different points. The real key is for the teacher to facilitate every single student to go completely around the entire cycle, maybe multiple times, so that every student no matter where they entered the cycle has learned the same principle from multiple points of view -- their preferred method and other alternative methods.

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with respect to what bignose said it might be a good idea to put a note in your bio about your teaching style. If students know something of your teaching style before they sign up for your class they have a chance to decide wheather or not they like that method, and they can self-select for people who would do well in your class.

 

-on a personal note, I think that a teacher should give a brief overview of why something's important before they talk about it and after they talk about it. its kind of like when you have a conersation with someone you've never met before, you'll usually exchange names early on, but by the end of the conversation you've probably forgotten the name, and need to ask for it again.

 

this is because you need some reason to remember the name, and if youve had a good conversation with that person than there is a reason to remember the name. Similarly if you give a reason fo people to remember the lecture beforehand, than they will remember more of it andwhen you go over why its important at the end again it will serve as a nice segway into the examples.

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I think that a teacher should give a brief overview of why something's important before they talk about it and after they talk about it.

 

Exactly, I try to emphasize that when I talk about something. I find it makes them a lot more receptive.

 

On the other hand, I also like to illustrate points with colorful examples, like particularly extreme examples that will catch their interest. Also, colorful phrases. Rather than say "and these thin connections between the retina and eye are fragile, leading to the possibility of failure and blidness due to detacted retinas", I say "and these thin connections between the retina and eye are fragile, which is why if you beat someone in the back of the head with a pool cue, they can get detacted retinas and go blind."

 

Mokele

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1) stay as far away from the textbook as humanly possible.

it's a known fact that textbook are hard to extract useful information from.

also, most students hate textbooks. for a reason.

 

2) always connect what you are currently teaching with what you previously taught, even if it's a stretch.

this allows the students to actually remember what they previously learned.

 

3) only give out homework if the homework does not have a monotone feeling.

meaning: no repeating problems unless they are optional, and no forced structure.

 

4) never teach something without telling the students what you expect them to learn.

 

5) never assign anything without giving the students a valid reason.

"because it will help you learn" is not a valid reason.

"because you need the grade" is not a valid reason.

"because it will help you remember" is not a valid reason.

"because it goes along with what we've been learning" is not a valid reason.

a true valid reason will allow the students to complete the assignment in the desired way, and to learn from the assignment what was meant to be learned.

 

6) students have to experiment, make mistakes, and fail, in order to learn anything. if students are not allowed to try a new structure. nay, if students are not encouraged to try a new structure at their will; and if students are not encouraged to fail, learning will not take place.

what takes place instead is known as "memorization" and "brainwashing".

 

7) always. always trust and respect your students. they are your equals.

never think of your students as objects, and never lump them into the category of "students" or "children".

 

 

 

 

 

let it be known. i dropped out of college.

the reason: because i haven't found any teachers who do the above.

and because after talking to a lot of people who go to different schools at differet grades, i found out that teachers who do any of the above are extremely rare, and discouraged by the curriculum.

 

 

 

so above all, the thing that makes a great teacher:

8) don't be afraid of anything.

especially don't be afraid of losing your job or reputation.

especially don't be afraid of going against what your superiors tell you to do.

 

 

a great teacher will have students wanting to learn from him/her, even if and long after that teacher gets fired.

 

a great teacher will realize that school is not just a place to gain knowledge, but also a place to gain experience, have fun, and make connections.

 

a great teacher will realize that students should be able to leave anytime they want. and a great teacher will realize that students should also be afraid of nothing. not even failing. not even getting kicked out of school.

 

and lastly, a great teacher will realize that 'respect' does not mean 'worship' or 'obey'; and respect does not come with a title.

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1) stay as far away from the textbook as humanly possible.

it's a known fact that textbook are hard to extract useful information from.

also, most students hate textbooks. for a reason.

 

Known fact, eh? Perhaps you could give me a reference on this known fact? Perhaps you could explain why textbooks keep getting written? Perhaps you could explain why several people, myself included, read textbooks all the time to expand our knowledges? Look, I agree that there are poor texts out there, just like anything else in life, but there are also some really, really great ones. Broad generalizations like this don't get help further discussions. As a student, if you really dislike the text assigned by the professor, you should take it upon yourself to go to the library and look up other books on the same subject. Maybe one of them will click better with you. Chances are awfully low that the book from your class is the only one written on the subject, and if it is a common subject, the library will have dozens of books on the subject.

 

3) only give out homework if the homework does not have a monotone feeling.

meaning: no repeating problems unless they are optional, and no forced structure.

 

This depends an awful lot on what it is. For example, when teaching differentiation, you want to give lots of homework problems calculating the derivative of many, many functions. This is so that the method of calculating the derivative becomes second nature. There are some things that the only way to really know something is to repeat it over and over. Practice makes permanent. I actually feel that the average math class does not give enough homework, because the average student today has very little math intuition -- intuition gained from practice.

 

That said, there is too much 'busy work' handed out as well. Sometimes it is necessary, but just to assign work simply so that there is work to do is definately a waste.

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See, I strongly disagree with that, as in every group I've ever been in, I've been faced with either doing 90% of the work myself, or letting the morons assigned to me drag my grade down. Worse still, said morons *know* I won't let them drag my grade down, so they know they can just let me do everything. *That*, IMHO, is why it seems to not adversely affect smart students, but to help 'slow' ones: because the smart ones do all the work, and the slow ones just leech off it.

 

Mokele

 

Not to mention the additional time involved waiting for them all to catch up. I couldn't stand the snail's pace in the lab while the morons I was grouped with read and re-read and re-read again stuff they already should have read and so consequently needed babysitting throughout the entire class period.

 

I basically taught little pieces of the material to small groups of people that didn't apparently really want to learn it and I didn't get paid for it...isn't that basically a public high school teacher?

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Known fact, eh? Perhaps you could give me a reference on this known fact?

sorry. you're right, i should have said i was being sarcastic with that specific comment.

although i do have a reference: the majority of students and teachers.

 

the point, however, is that textbooks contain a lot of information, but it's often hard to extract that information from them. and more than that, the information often contained in textbooks isn't very helpful for learning, beause they are often designed for a specific curriculum. using the textbook to extend from the curriculum is often really hard.

 

 

of course there are textbooks that are good. and of course there are cases where textbooks are useful. and of course students are free to read all of the textbooks they want. but this thread is about the teachers, and teachers should stay away from textbooks in general.

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I've gone through grade school, middle school, high school, and college. I've met many tutors, professors, teachers, and people through life who have taught me various things. I've also learned to teach myself through the years incase no one would be there to support me. Although I can support myself, there are things I don't understand. Things I haven't been introduced to knowing. Something that someone else would end up teaching me.

 

A teacher is like a librarian: The person introduces students to resources so they can learn the subject material. A teacher teaches students life-long skills, and he or she provides students with solutions to probable future scenarios. If the teacher can't teach a student something, the teacher could show the student where to find more information. That's teaching.

 

To tell you the truth, I'm against current teaching in institutions. I don't like the idea of having students evaluated, criticized, and a label slapped on them. The jigsaw classroom ideology left over from the 1970s probably made people think group work in classrooms was an all-around good thing. I'm sick of group work. I agree with Mokele that it holds people down. I recently dropped my English course because of that stupid B.S. I had an 88% in the English course and an 'A' in every other course.

 

However, the group members in my English course were screwing me over, giving me all the work; and when midterm came, they didn't even understand what an enthymeme is. It's perhaps the most important part of an English paper because it includes the thesis. Gah! Once I learned I would still be in that group, with that idiocy, I dropped it. I was not going to do another 48-hour period of typing, proofreading, and correcting mistakes for three people. I can stay up for long periods of time; I can work for weeks on four hours of sleep; but I'm not going to do their work. I will do those things for my own work. Worst yet, the professor lied to me saying individuals were graded individually. We were graded as a group. A good teacher does not create group projects. However, if the class is suppose to be built upon group work, as in a chemistry or biology lab that lasts a full college semester, then yeah: Group work is suppose to be done.

 

Now I'm working hardcore to bring the grades in my other classes up. Everything went down to a B grade. Don't think I'm angry about that. I'm more for the destruction of the educational system than the building of it.

 

However, I do support teachers giving students life-long skills so students can excel at their own rate. In other words, if students can figure out that they can go to their college library, pick up a calculus book, even though they are in high school, they learned something new that day. I didn't learn where to obtain advanced books in school while I was growing up. If I knew how to obtain resources, I'd be more intelligent than I am now. I was always buying and finding resources until I learned about interlibrary loan and other types of library systems.

 

I didn't have large amounts of money, but it seems other institutions offer these resources. A teacher teaches students not only theory, but how to excel in theory and find resources to go further.

 

So many teachers complain about the funding they get for their schools. Heh.

I believe that an intelligent persons knows all too well that money isn't everything. The teachers simply need to teach with more efficiency and accuracy. The problem isn't the money, the problem is the teachers. The teachers are lazy, they don't want to organize school activities, and they don't want to spend their money. It seems that communitarian effort does not exist to groups of teachers. No wonder American society keeps screwing each generation over.

 

One last thing:

 

avoid Spoon feeding them; that creates laziness

 

That depends on your definition of "spoon feeding." No offense YT, but last time I checked, you didn't go to college. I don't know what kind of personal experience you have. I know you're a smart guy and dabble in various "things." And I can assume you went through grade school and high school, so I can understand where you might be coming from. However, spoon feeding has various levels when it comes to college.

 

When it comes to objective things such as science, I can understand when spoon-feeding exists. Math is math: it is purely objective. English, however, is not the same. I had asked my English professor for help on an assignment while the class was around. She quickly used sophistry on me to avoid helping. She had given no example of what kind of outline she was looking for on our research papers. She simply said, "Be creative."

 

I took her advice on being creative. I did well on that. However, there's something that upset me. When more people asked her for help, she said, "I don't want to help you guys because that would be spoon-feeding, and I don't want you stealing my style."

 

AKA: She's paranoid that we'll steal her style. She could have simply said, "buy the MLA Research book and copy it's MLA layout." It would have worked because the whole format and ideology of the paper would be MLA. Of course, she never stated that throughout the whole semester. There were a lot of "fill-in-the-blanks" in that class. And I think she put way too many in the class. Fill-in-the-blanks are things the professor will never say because you're expected to journey out and find the answers on your own time. I know that's part of college education, but from where I live, our educational system sucks. People are not taught to be researchers and independent thinkers. I believe she assumed that people had the same educational background as her. However, that is not true.

 

A good teacher doesn't assume that everyone has the same educational background. The teacher makes up for this and tries to make sure everyone is on the same level or above the expected level. This can be done by giving quizzes and so forth in the form of essays. Afterwards, the professor can evaluate the knowledge of the students and compensate for things the majority don't know. I'm not talking about 51% or something like that. I'm talking about things that 20-40%+ of the class doesn't understand. A teacher might acknowledge that students come and go, but it is the teachers job to be an excellent and caring teacher. I don't think teachers are willing to take out the effort to care.

 

They'll use sophistry behind their beliefs, which typically seem like invalid arguments, because they are educated. And if you try to put words into their mouth, they'll refute your or some other junk like that. I've bickered with professors before. I've used social psychology on these people. It's unethical on my side, but I'm finding it common that professors don't care. I could say it's the inability for people to care in schools or think about consequences of actions that are creating a lot of problems.

 

I also remember a time I took an earlier college course. The professor expected people to have second semester English knowledge. That knowledge is not a prerequisite for the course. No where in the college catalogue was it described that people would do argumentation. A high school student could innocently walk into the class and expect five-paragraph essays, exams, and pop-quizzes. However, it wasn't like that. The high school student would be walking into the lion's den.

 

An argumentative paper was assigned. The professor wanted an argumentative paper. Not everyone knows how to create such a paper. Yet very few people did. That is unfair to the students. This kind of writing is taught in English 103 (second semester English) Therefore, a good teacher would not assign something like that without giving a discourse into argumentation. Or else the person would state in the schedule that argumentation is required for the course.

 

I've seen various professors at my college do this. I'm not very happy about it. My most recent professor did it. I was very angry that another professor did this. I have argumentation experience, so I understand how the system works. But I looked around, and I noticed other students didn't have a clue. That is unfair. I do not agree with that.

 

If this is some weed-out process, then it is an unethical weed-out process. Classes should have an ENG-103 class prerequisite before assigning such an assignment. I will say, however, that the last professor that requested it (my World Religion professor) did give a brief intro into the topic. I mean very brief. It takes more than one hour to understand argumentation. He gave an hour discussion.

 

It takes time (about a month) to learn and practice argumentation. A professor can't simply assign such a paper without students already having knowledge of argumentation theory. A good teacher doesn't assign topics that only a select few in a class can do. In these cases, professors assigned things that are not typically taught in high school.

 

That's unethical. People paid money to learn. They understand they are expected to work hard. But you can't expect them to learn the material of another course in an undergraduate course in one month when the assignment is due in one month. People are going to be pushed out of the system. If this is the weed-out process, that's sad. People who care about education are being pushed out because professors are assigning topics that only a select few understand. People are not able to further their education when they really care about it. I see that kind of suffering. I'm annoyed by it. These teachers are causing unnecessary or perhaps unethical sufferings to their students.

 

However, I could be blind. High schools might now teach argumentation, but argumentation wasn't taught to me in high school. I graduated high school in 2005. I had my first argumentative paper in 2006. I hope to graduate in 2007 from college. Something is apparently wrong in college.

 

A good teacher allows people to be at the same level, excel faster than others, become resourceful, and understand course material. I'm sure that if each student about the course material, then each student would make an 'A' grade. The only thing that would screw that up is the inability for the student to understand, the inability for the teacher to correctly teach, or some unknown external factor.

 

1. Teachers should not assign things students don't understand.

Premise: Students will not be able to learn or do well on them.

 

2. If teachers assign things students don't understand, these assignment should be worth a low amount of points.

Premise: Students will learn something out of it, probably fail, but still do the assignment.

 

Also, I don't understand why failing is a good thing. All it offers is a crash for megalomaniacs and egotistic persons, but success is needed for society because of the social constructs people have created. Science is less of an illusion, so I assume failing at science means failing to understand science. And that's not good, because science helps people understand the physical nature of the world. Science is less of an illusion than other things. Many rhetors throughout history have said that people are simply copying techniques from other people. I'm sure pragmatists would support this kind of view. What works best, works best and should be used until the better thing that works better is found. I don't see a problem with people copying methods from others. Easten civilizations called it passing down knowledge. Americans call it competition and stealing one's style.

 

I've been thinking of a new teaching technique. I call it the deduction technique: If you don't come to my office with certain information about what you're doing in this class, I'll automatically deduct ten points. Or else you need to fill out a survey and other forms with detailed responses.

 

It seems irrational, but I'm sure it would get students to admit they aren't doing so hot at certain topics. A teacher could somewhat force a student into seeking guidance by filling out forms, telling the teacher what he or she needs in terms of guidance. I'm thinking this deduction technique could work.

 

If you notice how teachers and parents have conferences in schools, this teacher-student conference might do some good. The student will be forced to communicate to the teachers. If the student comes, his or her grade stays the same. If not, ten points are deducted. Perhaps more points could be lost to make the student feel threatened. Of course, this goes into the realm of social psychology; but a student would visit the professor to keep the grade the same.

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I don't like professors who are brain bullies. Do you know what "brain bully" means? It means that the professors are using big words, complex concepts, and figures in their lectures. They think it will make them look smarter.

 

Instead, a good professor would know who his/her audience is, and give materials that we can understand with what we already know. Also, innovative exhibitions are usually very nice. :)

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Instead, a good professor would know who his/her audience is, and give materials that we can understand with what we already know. Also, innovative exhibitions are usually very nice.

 

However, sometimes it's necessary to introduce a totally new concept. That's why I like analogies so much: even a totally new concept can be likened to something familiar.

 

Mokele

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