Risk Teaching

Overview

Must we always teach from the inside of a classroom? Do periodic exams encourage learning as well as daily quizzes do? Do you schedule individual conferences with each student at the start of the term? Is lecturing an effective way to teach? If a student falls in love with you-or vice versa-are you doing something right or something wrong? If you have a pedagogical idea that will probably fail, should you try it anyhow? How do we know when it is time to retire from a profession we love? Such questions may make ...
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Overview

Must we always teach from the inside of a classroom? Do periodic exams encourage learning as well as daily quizzes do? Do you schedule individual conferences with each student at the start of the term? Is lecturing an effective way to teach? If a student falls in love with you-or vice versa-are you doing something right or something wrong? If you have a pedagogical idea that will probably fail, should you try it anyhow? How do we know when it is time to retire from a profession we love? Such questions may make readers uncomfortable, but they may also lead them to change the way they think about the profession. Teachers may reconsider their methods, causing students to reconsider their attitudes. In choosing the title Risk Teaching, Peter G. Beidler hopes to convey multiple meanings of the word "risk." "Risk" the verb, as in "take a chance on an amazing profession." "Risk" the adjective, as in "risky"-teaching that diverges from the safe and traditional path. "Risk" the noun, as in "teach students to take risks" and learn outside their comfort zones. Beidler's book, like his teaching, is saucy, innovative, and challenging.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781603811064
  • Publisher: Coffeetown Enterprises, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/1/2011
  • Pages: 250
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Meet the Author


PETER G. BEIDLER recently retired from Lehigh University as the Lucy G. Moses Distinguished Professor of English. ­Widely published in both British and American ­literature, he has won a number of ­teaching awards. In 1981 he was named National Professor of the Year by the Council on ­Advancement and Support of Education and the Carnegie Foundation.
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Read an Excerpt


I must confess that I am not a student of the science of pedagogy. I have not read or understood much of the "literature" about what educational psychologists can tell us about the effects of grading, whether lecturing is worse than cooperative learning, or whether "open concept" classrooms work. I can't talk more than a minute about learning styles--and even filling the minute would mean talking pretty slowly.

I was, however, a student for many, many years. In those years I had my share of so-so teachers and more than my share of good ones. Then, for many years, I have been a teacher, and so have been surrounded by other teachers. In those years I came to develop a sense both of what students expect in responsible teachers and of who among my many colleagues in the profession are the most effective teachers. After a lifetime as a student and a teacher I have developed a working list of the qualities that most good teachers share.

My method is pretty unscientific. My evidence is personal, memorial, observational, and narrow. My hope is that my readers will be inspired to think less about what I have noticed makes a good teacher than about what they themselves have noticed.

Good teachers really want to be good teachers

Good teachers try and try and try to be good teachers, and they let students know they try. Just as we respect students who really try, even if they do not succeed in everything they do, so students will respect us, even if we are not as good as we want to be. And just as we will do almost anything to help students who really want to succeed, they will help us to be good teachers if they sense that we are sincere in our efforts to succeed at teaching.

Some things teachers can fake. Some things teachers must fake. We have, for example, to act our way into letting our students believe that we can't think of any place we would rather be at 8:10 a.m. on a Friday morning than in class with them talking about the difference between a comma splice and a run-on sentence.

An acting course is good preparation for a life in the classroom because it shows us how to pretend convincingly. Our students probably know on some level that we would rather be across the street sipping a cup of Starbucks than caged up with twenty-four paste-faced first-years who count on our joyous enthusiasm and enlivening wit to be the cup of caffeine that will get them ready for their 9:10 a.m. class. But they will forgive our chicanery, even if they suspect that we are faking our joy and cheerfulness.

Students will know it by the second day, however, if we don't really want to be good teachers, and they will have trouble forgiving us for that. Wanting--really, truly, honestly wanting--to be a good teacher is more than halfway home.

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