What makes a good teacher?

Socrates rocks

While researching on how students can cheat a multiple-choice test, I came across a bit of wisdom about the quality of teaching.

The idea is that what matters a lot is the class room experience.  How the teacher interacts with his/her students has amplified effects on how well the students learn.

Honesty pays

Here is what I found (from All of the Above – how to cheat Multiple Choice questions,” by Donald Clark, posted on Nov. 12, 2008).  Clark quotes from Prof. Dylan Wiliam who talked about teaching. (Wiliam is also skeptical as to whether the culprit in bad education is lack of technology, i.e., lack of computers; this is obvious from the basic philosophy he expounds about the need for “conversation” in the class room setting.  I imagine that one day students can carry on a decent conversation with a computer, but that is a future perfect.)


Here’s an excerpt from Clark’s blog:

Wiliam’s point about the importance of classroom questioning, is that;

“The variability at teacher level is about four times the variability at school level. If you get one of the best teachers, you will learn in six months what an average teacher will take a year to teach you. If you get one of the worst teachers, that same learning will take you two years. There’s a four-fold difference in the speed of learning created by the most and the least effective teachers. And it’s not class size, it’s not between class grouping, it’s not within class grouping – it’s the quality of the teacher.”

This led him to determine what separates good from bad teachers.

“And actually, new teachers are actually pretty bad. You don’t really learn to teach at all well until you’re six or seven years into the profession. And some recent data from Australia shows that the amount of value added by teachers actually carries on increasing for about twenty years.”

And here’s a brilliant paragraph.

“The key concept here—the big trap—is that teachers do not create learning. That’s true teachers do not create learning, and yet most teachers behave as if they do. Learners create learning. Teachers create the conditions under which learning can take place. Our schools don’t function like that, which is why somebody once joked that schools are places where kids go to watch teachers work.”



Next time when we complain about poor education in the Philippines, we ought not just blame the lack of classrooms or the low wages of teachers.  Blame more the fact that many teachers pretend to teach, and their students pretend to learn.  All that pretense means the students are cheating themselves, and that quite a few teachers are overpaid.  This is the key problem of the governmental agency in charge of education, and yet there seems to be little being done in this regard.


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