In thinking about what good teachers expect from students, we come back once again to the important issue of what learning and education is all about. This is the theme of the second half of the 4th chp of Ken Bain’s exceptional book: What the Best College Teachers Do.
Less successful teachers see students as tanks ready to be filled. Good teachers see students as model constructors who need help in reconstructing the model that is already at work in their head. Learners undergo deep-seated transformations and affect heart and mind and lead to continued growth. So, good teachers see the classroom as a place for intellectual develpment instead of just absorbing information from the teacher/master/scholar.
They, in other words, create situations to develop intellectual and moral skills. They get students to ask:
What do we know? How do we know it? What is the evidence for this or that?
About gaps and where folks are filling in gaps with faith or intuition?
About the difference between observation and inference?
About how important “words” are in the whole process?
About where assumptions come into play?
About how they are testing their own assumptions?
And, about becoming more self-consciously aware of their own knowledge?
Good teachers connect the discipline to the person.
So, good teachers expect “more” but not just in that they have “more assignments.” The word refers to getting students to reach for more and to strive for the highest level of intellectual achievement they can achieve. And they figure out how to help students get there.
One of the best teachers said it this way: “My strongest feeling about teaching is that you must begin with the student. As a teacher you do not begin to teach, thinking of your own ego and what you know … The moments of the class must belong to the student — not the students, but to the undivided student. You don’t teach a class. You teach a student.”
Big questional: Are churches educational? If so, are they teacher-shaped or student-oriented? What difference would this make to churches?
Now the chaser: What will this do to the concern with power, hierarchy, and authority in churches?