Thursday, May 18, 2006

Pedagogy Seminar

I'm now taking a 30-hour seminar on pedagogy, led by Marshall Gregory of Butler University. There are about 12 other Emory faculty in the course. It's a wonderful opportunity to think and reflect on what we do in the classroom, and how to do it better.

Many of the articles we're reading were written by Professor Gregory, but most are not. Some of the ones we've covered so far are:
Bain, Ken. "What Makes Great Teachers Great"
Brookfield, Stephen. "Teaching Responsively"
Gregory, Marshall. "Forgetting, Learning, and Living: A Pedagogical Theory of How Education Makes a Difference even Though We Forget Most of What We Learn"
--. "Curriculum, Pedagogy, and Teacherly Ethos: Being Friendly and Befriending"
Parini, Jay. The Art of Teaching (excerpts)
Spector, Marshall. "'Look at Me!'--A Teaching Primer"
We also were treated to presentations on teaching (more or less along the lines of what's normally called a "teaching demonstration") by members of the course. Pat Marsteller gave a wonderful presentation on Problem-Based Learning, and Pat Cahill demonstrated how she would lead a discussion on a Shakespeare play. Both of these sessions were thrilling--when you're with a good teacher you just feel smarter, somehow--and it's great to be in the company of people who are serious about teaching.

I have to give a presentation myself tomorrow, and am not sure how I'm going to go about it. I'm going to look over some of the things I've written on this blog about teaching, and see if there's anything there that can help.

This afternoon I asked my friend Ling about what she thought was good about good teachers. She said "encouragement." This seems obvious, but for her encouragement wasn't just someone pointlessly saying "great! you did a good job!" but more about someone creating incentives for you to do your best. I mentioned that I was thinking about how the Chinese character for teach, 教, is a graph of a cringing child being beaten with a stick. She reminded me that there's a distinction between punishment and encouragement.

I don't know where this is taking me, but it's the place I'm going to start from. I don't think that the intention of this seminar is to get people thinking they need to get out their sticks and start swinging. So let's see what I can come up with.

I'll make sure to tell you if it's interesting.