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The Elements of a Good Teacher
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Michio-kun Offline

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Post: #1
The Elements of a Good Teacher

I've never been a teacher, so immediately some would say, "You have no right to judge teachers." This attitude drives a wedge between a teacher and a student, making it seem as though the two are different, when in fact teachers are students, and students are just teachers in training.

This attitude also creates a power structure that is damaging to the relationship between a teacher and a student. A teacher is not a dictator of knowledge, but a only a guide that shows the student the way. The teacher may only impart tools to the student so that they can traverse the road on their own, rather than being carried to the end, thus learning nothing.

I don't mean this just in the philosophical sense, but also practically such as in a typical classroom setting. In the book How to Solve It by Polya, he begins with a fictional dialogue between a math teacher and his lost student. The student is attempting to figure out a formula for finding the length of a diagonal in a rectangular box. Throughout the whole conversation, Polya emphasizes the types of questions that a teacher asks to inadvertently force the student to figure out the problem on their own. He spends around 30 pages of detail about how this is done, but some example questions include, “Have you used all the information in the condition?”, “Do you know a similar problem with the same types of unknowns?”, “What is the unknown in the problem?”, “What do you think the answer will look like?” etc. An example of a bad question would be, “Could you use the pythagorean theorem in this problem?” This is bad because, (1) the student has no idea how the teacher figured out that you need to use the pythagorean theorem in the problem (2) the student will not understand how generalization was used to solve the problem (3) the question may have given away the answer and thus the student learned nothing because no effort was required. By asking a question like, “Could you use the pythagorean theorem in this problem?” would carry the student to the end, rather than requiring him to find their own way.

What is more important to a teacher than amassing an impressive amount of scholastic knowledge, is learning to think like their student, so that they can understand where they are encountering roadblocks. This requires patience, empathy, and respect. A more accurate word than respect might be reverence, which emphasizes “learning your place”. A teacher who is arrogant is the worst kind of teacher, because they believe they somehow dictate knowledge, and that they are always right. A teacher who is arrogant also cannot adapt to their student, and will be unable to help them at all. And of course, a teacher is also a student and that they are sometimes wrong implying that they could learn from their student. A teacher who remembers this will remain humble.

To a mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders. - Chuang-tzu
The quieter you become, the more you can hear. - Baba Ram Dass
The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in one dewdrop on the grass. - Dogen
Great Faith. Great Doubt. Great Effort. - The three qualities necessary for training. - Zen saying
Possessing much knowledge is like having a thousand foot fishing line with a hook, but the fish is always an inch beyond the hook. - Zen saying
01-14-2009 02:01 AM
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Faby Offline
work in progress

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Post: #2
Re: The Elements of a Good Teacher

My definition of a good teacher is basically this: A good teacher must not be power-abusive, or in any way use his "powers" to threaten you into doing things. A good teacher must also be one who realises that their purpose is to present information that should later be used by students, and not some other distorted reason: for example, my literature teacher, not once, but many times, said to us that it is our DUTY as students to do what the teachers told us to - So, I see in the meantime the purpose of school has been turned from learning to obeying? So directly?
Of course, this sort of clashes with the fact that they ARE supposed to grade you and stuff, but that's not what I meant. I meant that, for example, when you need to turn in homework, the teacher should ask in a nice way if you've done it or not, not use some half-ass threat or insult.

Another good trait of a good teacher is their ability to realise and accept the fact that you are not interested in the subject they teach: in the end, it is better not to learn at all than learn with disgust or just to say "well, at least I'm done with this shit..." . Of course, many teachers cannot accept this fact, but I believe that a truly good teacher, and a truly good person, can accept that people like different things. I don't mean they should exempt you from tests or homework or anything, but they should let you do what you want during class, as long as it doesn't disturb the others who do want to learn the specific subject. Heh, if they are really good teachers, maybe they'll actually spark the interest within you.

Then comes the "niceness" of the teacher: in my view, a good teacher considers the students actual human beings with human feelings. They shouldn't shout, or use sarcasm (unless it is used when joking), or, in any way, be an immature brat (more so than the student).

Let go of all desire for the common good, and the good becomes common as grass.


Good fortune follows upon disaster;
Disaster lurks within good fortune;
Who can say how things will end?
Perhaps there is no end.
01-14-2009 03:36 AM
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The Djinni Offline

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Post: #3
Re: The Elements of a Good Teacher

A good teacher is one who

a)ENJOYS their subject
b)realizes that not every student will enjoy it
c)acts on both points a and b
d)nudge's rather then gives the answer

All in all, my Japanese teacher was a good teacher. Yay.

01-14-2009 06:53 PM
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Double Offline

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Post: #4
Re: The Elements of a Good Teacher

A good teacher makes his students listen.
01-14-2009 07:18 PM
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SoulRiser Offline
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Post: #5
Re: The Elements of a Good Teacher

I think the contents of this thread will be added to the (already very long) How to be a good teacher page... if that's OK with everyone who posted here?

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01-15-2009 08:08 AM
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The Djinni Offline

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Post: #6
Re: The Elements of a Good Teacher

Yeah, why not.

01-15-2009 09:26 AM
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i-am-the-liquor Offline

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Post: #7
Re: The Elements of a Good Teacher

one man, mr chambers.english teacher at amherst regional high school(canada). he smokes pot, golfs,drinks like a feind, and is in his fourtys with two kids.

I dont mean to sound bitter, cold, or cruel, but I am,so thats how it comes out.- bill hicks
01-16-2009 07:45 PM
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Prince Rilian Offline
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Post: #8
RE: The Elements of a Good Teacher

A good teacher believes that they are there to serve the student. NOT to work on the student like a product.

Life is good. Jeta është e mirë. Goingcrazy
Die lewe is goed.
Het leven is goed.

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Leela: I guess I would have to say, I hate you!
01-27-2012 04:09 AM
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The Offline
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Post: #9
RE: The Elements of a Good Teacher

If only ive seen a teacher like this. The teacher you describe is beyond my comprehension

........('(...´...´.... ¯~/'...')
..........''...\.......... _.·´
01-27-2012 09:04 AM
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