The Elements of Teaching

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What are the characteristics of a great teacher? What qualities of mind and spirit are necessary to help others acquire the knowledge through which they can understand and live a good life? In this book, James Banner and Harold Cannon draw on many years of experience to set forth the intellectual, moral, and emotional capacities that they believe the best teachers must possess. Their book is an inspiring guide to current and future schoolteachers and to college and university professors - indeed to everyone who teaches anything to anyone else. Arguing that teaching is an art, Banner and Cannon help teachers understand its components. They analyze the specific qualities of successful teachers and the ways in which these qualities promote learning and understanding. Throughout, they illustrate their discussion with sharply etched portraits of fictional teachers who exemplify - or fail to exemplify - a particular quality. Neither a how-to book nor a consideration of the philosophy, methods, or activities of teaching, this book, more precisely, assesses what it takes to teach. It encourages teachers to consider how they might strengthen their own level of professional performance.
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Editorial Reviews

Diane Ravitch
"The Elements of Teaching is a true classic. Its inspiring message of hope and professionalism is needed now more than ever. Every teacher and parent should read this lovely book."—Diane Ravitch
Library Journal
Augmenting and reprising their earlier Elements of Teaching, Banner (formerly Princeton Univ.) and Cannon (formerly Manhanttanville Coll.) outline the 12 qualities students should possess to get the most out of their educational experience (Part 1) and the who's, what's, and how's of learning (Part 2). Throughout, students are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning; the short, coherent chapters close with suggestions for putting the concepts into practice. The chapters can be read in any order, and some can be postponed until need dictates. Intended for high schoolers, college students, and mature learners (people over 25 years old returning to school), this thoughtful and reassuring text offers kindly advice to a new generation. A good supplemental course text or library resource for units on study methods; for academic libraries.--Scott R. Johnson, Whittemore Park Middle Sch., Conway, SC Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Roger Rosenblatt
An elegantly written, thoughtful book....the authors have not only written brilliantly about the practice of teaching, they have also captured the beauty of it. -- Roger Rosenblatt
Kirkus Reviews
Offering deeply considered philosophy as well as commonsensical advice, historian Banner (formerly of Princeton University) and classicist Cannon (a former dean at Manhattanville College) have created an invaluable book on the art of teaching.

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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300078558
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1999
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 332,974
  • Product dimensions: 5.52 (w) x 8.16 (h) x 0.47 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Learning 7
Authority 21
Ethics 35
Order 51
Imagination 67
Compassion 81
Patience 95
Character 107
Pleasure 121
Afterword 133
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2000

    The Timeless Art of Teaching

    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.

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