27 March 2010

Teaching versus education (again)

In a comment to Old aphorisms never die..., Dr C says:

Might not aphorisms be more for the cynic in us all? This one is almost the same as we heard in medical school: "See one, do one, teach one" (i.e. anything from drawing blood, to doing a cesarean section.) Unfortunately it is sometimes true. But in a non cynical world, your doctor would be well trained. Actually, it is easier to be a doctor than a teacher, especially a pathologist or anesthesiologist. As you so rightly point out, your candidate has talent and passion as a teacher, which I assume to be his/her ability to motivate students to learn (which they do themselves and has little to do with the quantity of knowledge possessed by the teacher.)

He is, on consideration, probably right ... aphorisms in general do seem to appeal to the cynic in all of us.

My reason for elevating his comment to post, though, is the last sentence. I absolutely agree: the best educator is one who teaches nothing (hey ... did I just coin an aphorism??). The best educator is one who induces students to learn.

In the real world, we do in fact have to do both ... but the lower the ratio of teaching to learning, the greater I count my success as an educator.


Julie Heyward said...

"The best educator is one who induces students to learn." -- Felix

As someone who just paid (the totally obscene, ripoff textbook price of) $125 for the book Meteorology Today by Donald Ahrens (I bought a used copy for $5 and it was so old and so underlined, I couldn't stand it) -- because I saw a short video on the weather and was eaten up by not-knowing-enough -- and am totally loving this book ...

... may I suggest that there are some of us (almost certainly Mr. Growlery, himself) who need to be induced not to want to learn quite so much?

Also, I am torn between, in some cases, preferring the kind of teacher who makes the subject matter as painless and easily digestible as possible versus the kind who, by making it thoroughly painful, makes it wonderfully challenging.

Geoff said...

I have heard often said that a good teacher learns from the pupil.

Felix said...

Geoff: an aphorism which I think is very true.

I certainly learn at least as much from my students as I impart to them.