Friday, March 5, 2010

The art of teaching

According to Doug Lemov, an athletic education consultant featured in the New York Times Magazine (“Building a Better Teacher”), there is no such thing. A self-confessed “data geek,” he has reduced good/effective teaching with razor-sharp precision to 49 techniques, all labelled and capitalized. In his view, almost anyone who is trained in these can “teach like a champion” (the title of his teaching manual). This reminds me of Iain McGilchrist’s argument (The Master and His Emissary) that in a world dominated by left-hemisphere-dominant perceptions and thinking any skill will be reduced to an algorithm. Unbelievably, he frets that such a world may await us in the future. I have some news for him – it’s here, and here to stay; until it falls apart. Again, the scary part in all this is that a critical mass of New York Times readers discovered some deep wisdom in the story introducing Lemov’s analysis of reproducibly good teaching, and it made it to the top of the list of most e-mailed articles.