What type of teacher are you?


In a previous post I contemplated what professors really do, what their main purpose in academia are.  I concluded that it is to provide learning opportunities to students.  Two kinds of schooling made me think…  Seth Godin identifies two types of classes that you can take, and I quote:

  • Type 1. You can take a class where you learn technique, facts and procedures.
  • Type 2. You can take a class where you learn to see, learn to lead and learn to solve interesting problems.

Lots of Type 1 teaching goes on… everywhere.  How many Type 2 teaching goes on? Clearly not enough.

The problem I think get exasperated by the way assessment takes place…  It is relatively easy to assess technique, fact and procedure.  Educationalist use taxonomies such as Bloom’s taxonomy to classify the objectives teachers set for their students. While a strict hierarchy of categories is questioned by some it does serve as a useful tool to think about what you want. The levels are: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation.

Seems to me that the first three pretty much can be achieved with Godin’s Type 1 teaching: knowledge, comprehension and application.  These are relatively easy to assess with traditional exams…  List the… Explain the… Discuss… Compute the area of…  and so on can do the trick…

Now it is the case that certain words are associated with the upper levels to help with questioning. Compare… Plan… Critisize… Can that be done? Of course, but in there is a bit of an issue.  If I provided in class the list of criticisms, the that question becomes pretty much one of: “Remember and list the criticisms…”  Back to the lower level we go… To make the words in assessment matter it means I should make the students aware of how to criticise and about the matter to be critisized, I should create an environment in which they can practice that skill, but giving them the list of criticism is not teaching them to critisize!  In term of Godin’s levels good Type 2 teaching requires much more than content, it also need to deal with creating opportunities to apply scaffolding that you also provide somewhere on the way…

Am I a Type 2 teacher? Probably not, but I aspire to be one… If you are a teacher, are you a Type 2 teacher?

Maybe then I should refrain from further comment and go and prepare next week’s learning opportunities…

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