Is teaching an “art”?

I’m in my 10th year teaching college (yes Mom, I’m THAT old) –the last 7 years I’ve been full-time at BNCC.  That means I teach 30 credit hours per semester…

For those of you who are in more normal professions, let me clue you into something — they don’t teach you how to teach in grad school… they teach you how to research in your discipline.  They may offer some seminars on teaching and learning, but at least 95% of the coursework is about the discipline..

Yep — that’s  what y’all are paying high college tuition rates for, right… good researchers?  Thought so…

Anywhoodle, after completing my MA, I learned to teach by doing.  Call it trial and error, on the job training or whatever…  the point is that I figured it out on my own.

As you might have guessed by now, I’m still thinking about Andy’s discussion of “Art” and “Artists”…

The essence of his definition of an artist is someone who combines their knowledge, skill and experience to create.  They’ve paid their dues and are open to the direction their creative spark may lead them.

A lot of teaching is more like a performance art than any other job I’ve had.  Leading a good classroom discussion takes the knowledge gained in grad school and combines it with my experience in the classroom to create a learning environment.

Sometimes, just occasionally, something nearly magical happens to me in the classroom.  I’ll find a new way to connect to a class.  I’ll hear something come out of my mouth that explains a concept or challenges my class in a new way.  When it happens it surprises me, generally in a good way.

It may not always work — because, like other enterprises involving human beings, my “brilliance” is open to interpretation and application by people who aren’t me… sigh. If Andy figures out a way to make a vibrator for his guitar, we can equip our classroom chairs with a similar item… or, that may not be such a bright idea… but it would probably increase class attendance.

Perhaps there’s an art to teaching — and perhaps good teaching is part perspiration, part preparation and part inspiration — maybe that’s what Andy’s trying to get to when he defines “artist” — someone who combines those three things… hmmm…




One Response

  1. Patty, you know thatI don’t have any type of atheistic eye. maybe that’s why I see art all around me in people.Remember the old guy who built picnic tables outside grandpa Charlies house? The way he hit nails with his hammer was a thing of beauty.
    I certainly think teaching can be an art.We all have had a teacher who turned on the light bulb for us.Not all teachers do that but the ones that do…. wow.

    In school we learned the art and science of nursing. The art is much harder than the science and again, not everyone is good at it and it is hard to explain. You can model it and people know it when they see it. sound familiar?
    When people are sick or old they are ofter in a crisis situation and very vulnerable. What you say and do can make a difference in their life. its hard to explain how it is done. It is both deliberate and instinctual. You know when it is right.

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