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The authors, both longtime educators with a wide variety of classroom experience, divide their study into the "elements" that go into the making of a good teacher: learning, authority, ethics, order, imagination, compassion, patience, character, and pleasure. All teachers have all these attributes to varying degrees; the important thing is how the traits are developed and used to the students' best advantage. In "Learning," for example, the authors explain the importance of mastering the subject that one teaches while continuing to explore it along with one's students. They offer here, as they do at the end of every section, a case study of sorts—a fictionalized teaching situation where a teacher is seen as either manifesting the "element" being examined or failing to live up to the authors' high expectations. In "Learning," a history teacher is disappointed with her presentation of the subject of religion in her American history class. Rather than go on with the curriculum as planned, she decides to devote more time to religion and assigns different areas of the subject to her students, taking an equal amount of additional work on herself. The class becomes so involved in the project that they decide to enter the National History Day competition, which they win. And while the teacher devotes much more of her own time to the class than she would have if she'd dropped the subject of religion after the first failed presentation, her tenacity results in a rewarding exercise for both herself and her students.
An important manual for anyone who teaches or needs to evaluate teachers, such as administrators, school boards, and not least of all, parents.
Posted April 18, 2000
In THE ELEMENTS OF TEACHING, James M. Banner and Harold C. Cannon have identified something profound and timeless about the art of teaching; in the process they have also provided an inspirational portrait of good teaching that will rejuvenate teachers at all levels of experience. Whether teachers are just entering the profession or are hardened by years of classroom experience, they will find in THE ELEMENTS OF TEACHING a splendid antidote to the frustrations accompanying all honest attempts to convince students of the intrinsic value of learning for the sake of learning. Not only does the book ask teachers to explore the effectiveness of their approach to education, it also reminds teachers of the nobility of their profession and the age-old responsibility of guiding our children, and thus our society, toward knowledge and wisdom. Although the book is at times sobering in its realistic description of the responsibilities and hard work facing teachers, it nevertheless prompts all teachers to enter the classroom with renewed energy and a sharper focus on what it takes to give every student the desire to learn.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.