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The Art and Science of Teaching in the United States

By Debbie Cluff

Yeats, philosopher, once said, “Education is not the filling of the pail, but the lighting of the fire” (www.quotations page.com). Teachers are the key to our children’s future, they are the ones who will ignite their love for learning. Teaching contains two major concepts of learning, the arts and the science. The art is defined in the Encarta Encyclopedia as “the product of creative human activity in which material is shaped or selected to convey an idea, emotion, or visually interesting form”. This describes exactly what a teacher does in a day, they create “human activity”. While science is defined as, “a study of anything that can be examined, tested, or verified” (Encarta, 2003).The teacher is always studying the situation, examining what they can do, and verifying that their job has been complete. Teaching is an art and science that is learned and then developed through a teachers learning style.

Albert Einstein once said, “Believe it or not, one of my deepest regrets [is that I didn’t teach]. I regret this because I would have liked to have more contact with children. There has always been something about the innocence and freshness of young children that appeals to me and brings me great enjoyment to be with them. And they are so open to knowledge. I have never really found it difficult to explain basic laws of nature to children. When you reach them at their level, you can read in their eyes their genuine interest and appreciation (Parkway, 2001, p. 5). Albert Einstein was a mastermind and knew that teaching children was the only way to open little minds to great wisdom. It takes a special kind of person, one who knew that teaching was the life, not career, that they wanted to lead. Teachers are required to do the “dance”, a way of smoothly persuading the students to achieve greatness. This is the mentally, emotional, and physically preparation “dance”, or motion, that develops the entire package of teaching the students how to learn. This is the ability to maneuver through lesson plans, teaching strategies, print-rich classroom environments, classroom management, discipline tactics, parental lack of support or too much support, and all the other encounters teachers learn to juggle. This is the art and science of teaching, the ability to multi-task all the above items and still manage to accomplish the goal of teaching the students.

Daniel Lipton, Educational Theorist, explains, “A love of learning, a love of inquiry, comes in many forms. In its various manifestations we seem to reach beyond ourselves, to discover, create, and uncover. We invest ourselves in and engage ourselves with the world around us” (Lipton, 2000, 22). Teachers have made a commitment to their students, to the lasting learning process, and to the schools that they teach. This means that they are to find ways to teach their class everything that the students will need in their entire lifetime, not just the school year. Liston writes about the love of learning and teaching by stating:

“As teachers we share this love of learning with our students. To teach
is to share publicly this love; it is to ask others to be drawn in by
the same powers that lure and attract us; it is to try to get our
students to see the grace and attraction that these "great things" have
for us. In teaching we reach out toward our students in an attempt to
create connections among them and our subjects. We want them to love
what we find so alluring.”

As a teacher, you cannot settle for anything less than complete knowledge and dedication to your students. This requires an eagerness to teach the students to achieve far beyond their expectations of the classroom, a desire to stay educated. An example would be, that of a parent not letting their child leave the home without the proper skills and developments to live by themselves. Teachers do not want their “children” to go into life without the proper education (Cain, 2001).

Liston writes, “Good teaching entails a kind of romantic love of the learning enterprise; it is motivated by and infuses other with a love of inquiry…if guided by an enlarged love, teaching can become an ongoing struggle that nourishes our students’ and our own soul”. (Liston, 2000, p. 81). Teaching is based on both a physical and emotional level, or “emotional and intellectual work”. No matter what the age or grade level that is taught, teachers are effective through emotions and ideas on how to spark the student’s interest in learning. When a teacher is successful in a lesson plan, it feels as though anything can be conquered. This is an affirmation that most professions will never achieve in their careers (Liston, 2000). Teachers have learned that the art of teaching is to shape and explore the needing minds of their students.

Frank Smith, a leading educational theorist, remarks, “The brutally simple motivation behind the development and imposition of all systematic instructional programs is a lack of trust that the teacher can teach and that the student can learn. To be effective, teachers must have flexibility to tailor their methods to the needs of individual students” (Perlich, 2000, pg. 1). This is the art and the science of teaching - the ability to put the trust back into the teacher and the students and to do it in a creative manner. Lesson planning is one of the ways that teachers can develop flexibility and tailor the needs of individual students. This is because the lesson plan is the core of the classroom stability and what will really make the student want to learn. There is a special art/style that a teacher must possess in order to accommodate to these classes. Lesson plans need to hold onto the child’s interest and also to each student’s learning style. The lesson should be well thought out and very well planned, on the teacher’s behalf. Lesson plans should follow these simple rules:

  1. Identify the special needs of each student through assessment and evaluation.
  2. Choose a lesson based on the needs of the group and the experiences or lessons wanted to learn.
  3. Make good decisions on how the book will be used in the class (Batzle, 1996).

Other questions a teacher might think of when developing lesson plans are ‘is it interesting to the students?’ and ‘how long will it keep their attention?’. Learning should be fun and not something that gets moans and groans when talking about. Sesame Street is a great program for children to watch and this program is done in a manner what children, as young as 12 months, don’t realize that they are learning. Melanie Roberts, Special Education Teacher, noticed that her 20 month old son could count to 20 without her help. Upon further investigation, she found that he had learned this from Sesame Street. He didn’t even know he was learning because he was enjoying what he was doing (Roberts, 2003). This is how teacher’s lessons should be, an unknown learning process. A way to do this is to always educate yourself and learn new strategies for teaching subjects.

For reading, a fun and educational lesson plan would be to have the students read or have the teacher read a favorite book. When the book is finished assess the students by shared writing or a writing workshop. An example would be reading the book, “Stone Soup”. After having read the book, the students will then make the story into a poster, create a new ending in groups, use a setting to create a postcard, or create a paper doll for each character and act out the book. The teacher can even have a special stone and make soup with the class after the lesson and assessment has been done. There are so many ways to have the students learn without realizing this. Another great resource would be to use online reading sites. Links for Learning, [http://www.links-for-learning.com] has a great resources book site for teachers. These books provide grade leveled reading books.

Diane Perlich, leader for the California Literature Project, states, “Anyway you look at it, children in our classroom will live in the future and it is out responsibility as educators to provide the learning environment in which they can be successfully prepared” (Perlich, 2000, p.1). A print rich environment is so important in developing a positive atmosphere that will provide learning in the classroom. With this aura developed by the teacher, the students will be able to openly express their thoughts and personality, breaching the door between a higher thought process and that child. This room will provide a place for the students to escape from any hardships they might encounter outside of the classroom and allow this place to be their “safe haven”. A good example of how to make a classroom print-rich friendly is to have a moveable word wall. This is a giant piece of paper with the alphabet attached to it. When the students learn a new word, their spelling words, etc. the teacher attaches that word to the “Word Wall” under the appropriate letter. This will help with phonics, sight reading, and memorization of words. A literacy-rich environment would include, learning centers, colorful rugs, or grouped seating arrangements. Anything can make a classroom print-friendly, as long as the classroom will allow the students to feel important and comfortable when learning.

Lelia Christie Mullis, teacher of 20 years, writes, she encourages “students to reach back into their own memories and remember the fears, the embarrassment, and the joy of learning they felt… I hope they will give their students a liter positive environment, full of oral and written languages, which breeds joy more than any other emotion. That magical process we call learning can change lives forever” (Perlich, 2000, p. 105). This is what teachers strive for, a place where learning is the center of each student’s thinking. A teacher must be able to bring the information to the students in the way that she creatively thinks is effective. She must be able to establish positive relations with her students and their parents. She must create the lesson plans that she feels will be significant. The teacher must be the master of her room, allowing the atmosphere to reflect her teaching style. She must have complete control of her classroom and what happens inside of it. This is called education and, education is the art and science of teaching.

References

Cain, M.S. (2001). Teaching, the Social Aspect. Phi Delta Kappan, 82 (9), 702.

Batzle, J. (1996). Recommended Reading and Writing Strategies. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Encarta Online. (2003). http://www.encarta.com

Liston, D.P. (Winter, 2000). Creative Teachers: Risk, Responsibility, and Love. Educational Theory, 50 (1), 22-81.

Parkway, F.W. (2001). Becoming A Teacher. In Art and Science of Teaching. Boston, Pearson Education Company.

Perlich, Diane (2000). Lets put phonics in perspective. K-3 Core Literacy
Training: Los Angeles, University of California-Los Angeles Press.

Roberts, M.R.B. (2003). A conversation with Melanie Roberts (interview with Deborah Cluff).

Quotation. (2003). Retreived on July 20 from [http://www.quotaionspage.com]

Debbie Cluff is a teacher of 1st grade. She has been teaching for 3 years and has recieved her M.S. in Education. She has two children and is the oldest of 10 kids. She is the co-owner of Links for Learning, [http://www.links-for-learning.com], an internet tutoring and instant homework help site.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Debbie_Cluff

 
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