PIDP3260 – Week 3 – Core Assumptions of Skillful Teaching
There are 3 core assumptions of Skillful teaching which are the following (Brookfield 2015):
- Skillful teaching is whatever helps students learn.
- Skillful teachers adopt a critically reflective stance
towards their practice.
- The most important knowledge skillful teachers need
to do good work is a constant awareness of how stu-
dents are experiencing their learning and perceiving
Brookfield says that #1 is both true and a hindrance in my opinion. He says that if we believe it actually makes teaching more complex, not less simple. At the same time he says that a lot of times we are driven by personal experience and other bias’ and sometimes professional training that hinders us (eg. by going straight to a classroom discussion if you have had adult education training). I try to have a collection of tools at my disposal, of what I think work and have succeeding in using on a wide range of audiences. To me, it means that you should do what helps student learn, but make sure that you are applying the right theories, principles and experiences so that it actually helps and does not hinder the students. I believe the true meaning is that we should be flexible and adaptable to the situation and make adjustments accordingly.
On #2, there is less debate or internal struggle to figure this out, so long as we don’t teach in an “uninformed and unjustifiable way”. According to Brookfield, informed teaching require 3 sets of criteria which include that it be justifiable to others, that it is researched and based on sound rationale, and finally that because our teaching has been researched, there is a strong chance of succeeding in our teaching objectives. Finally, if we are truly practicing critical reflection, we should not be complacent and we will not be stale with confidence and experience. By teaching in a critically reflective way, our minds will be open to new ideas from students and colleagues that help is improve our practice.
I believe #3 is absolutely critical and has been essential to my success, which involves one being well aware of how students are experiencing their learning and perceive the instructor’s actions. Brookfield contends that the most knowledgeable instructor, who is unaware of how students are feeling, may be ineffective. One of the biggest challenges is actually getting the true feelings of the students due to “paranoia” and previous negative experiences even with instructors who said they were open to criticism. It is a tricky thing to master, but the key take away is that you need to gain their trust. I feel I’ve done this quite well but being forthcoming, genuine, and transparent with the students and I find I get the same in kind.
Brookfield, S. (2015). The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.