Seven Laws of Teaching Your Own: What is a Teacher? What is Teaching?

posted in: pedagogical | 0

I wrote this series one year ago at A Healer’s Geste, and am reposting the series here at my new home on the internet. How we teach our children is part of how we interact with and love our children, and make this life together work.

Begin with the introduction, summary, and table of contents for The Seven Laws of Teaching Your Own series.

The Seven Laws of Teaching Your Own

[/columns]

Summary of the Seven Laws of Teaching

What is a teacher? What is teaching?

What is a teacher? What is teaching?

According to Gregory, the art of education -- that is, teaching -- is two-fold:
  1. Teaching is the art of training. Teaching is leading the students into paths of physical, mental, and moral fitness.
  2. Teaching is the art of instructing. Teaching stimulates a love of learning and forms habits of independent study.
Thus, a successful teacher is working himself out of his position. He is moving his pupils not into but out of dependence on his guidance.
We can only train by teaching and we teach best when we train best.
Teaching and training can be thought of individually, but in practice can hardly be separated. Every act of teaching -- purposefully or not, done rightly or not -- inculcates good or bad habits of work and thinking. Likewise, every act of training teaches, even if the lecture is missing. The work of teaching, says Gregory, is the work of assigning, explaining, and hearing lessons. “Hearing lessons” is hardly comprehensible today, but is akin to hearing narrations after independent reading and study, I believe. So, “lecture” is only a third of the work of teaching.
Teaching is the communication of experience.
Experience includes facts, truths, doctrines, ideas, ideals, skills, art. Communication includes words, signs, objects, actions, and examples. I think this definition makes it clear, then, that the mother in a homeschool setting is not the students’ sole teacher. It is the books used more than the mother that teach. This relieves a lot of the pressure, I believe, especially in light of the laws that govern teaching. One essential element of teaching, however, is easy to forget yet indispensable even within the mother’s realm:
Questioning is not, therefore, merely one of the devices of teaching, it is really the whole of teaching. [...] An explanation may be so given as to raise new questions while it answers old ones.
This is how the teacher leads while instructing.

Words for Teachers

Verbs that characterize the teacher: kindle, give success, glow with truth, guide, Adjectives that characterize the teacher: warmhearted, enthusiastic, skillful, sympathizing, A teacher will
  • stand at the spiritual gateways of his pupil’s mind.
  • summon the minds to their work.
  • guide them into the right paths to be followed.
  • excite the minds of the pupils.
  • guide, direct, and test the process of learning.
  • lead the march; their reconnaissance becomes a conquest.
  • maintain the order necessary to produce learning.

His Most Notable Admonition

There is an enthusiasm born of skill -- a joy in doing what one can do well -- that is far more effective, where art is involved, than the enthusiasm born in vivid feeling. The steady advance of veterans is more powerful than the mad rush of raw recruits. The world’s best work, in the schools as in the shops, is done by the calm, steady, and persistent efforts of skilled workmen who know how to keep their tools sharp, and to make every effort reach its mark.
Seven Laws of Teaching your Own Series: What is a teacher? What is teaching?