How do the best college teachers relate to and with their students? There is a school of thought, and I will call it the authoritative/traditional model, that operates with the teacher as the authority and the primary mode of operation to be passing on the intellectual tradition. But another school of thought not only knows a better way, but it has the evidence in its favor in impacting students the most: it is the learner model. One of the major revealers of the model at work is how the teacher relates to the student, and that is the subject of chp 6 of Ken Bain, What the Best College Teachers Do.
Now I’ve got a theory to propose, and I don’t know if I’m right so I want to open it up for conversation today: the traditional model of education correlates more with catechesis of Sacred Tradition, and ought to be found more often among Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, high church Anglicans, and anywhere that perceives itself as owning and passing on the Tradition. Here’s the irony about low church evangelicalism: it is radically congregational and its form of education is far too authoritative-traditional. What do you think? Do you think one’s ecclesiology should shape one’s educational theory?
Now on to Bain’s chp….
A big image in the chp is that the best college teachers treat their students as special and that means they adapt to the students. What are the characteristics, then, of these teachers?
1. They do not display power but investment in the learning of the students. Good teachers want their students to learn and not just to do well on an exam.
2. The best teachers trust their students and their instinct, when things don’t go well, is to seek for a cause in their teaching instead of in the laziness of students.
3. The best teachers related to students openly — they create an environment of openness. They bring themselves to the classroom and to the students.
4. The best teachers create an interactive atmosphere.
5. The best teachers connect themselves and their students to the awe of discovery and of the grandeur of life and are humble because they know they are not gods. They create a bond with their students in a mutual journey of learning. The opposite model is an ego game. [This chp has some potent negative examples.] Thus, they are fellow students.
6. They exhibit an awareness that they and their students can do great things, make discoveries together and can accomplish something.