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The great teacher or educator: Post III

The great teacher or educator has a strong ego and self of self, but is not narcissistic or egocentric. He/she knows that he/she is not perfect and has knowledge of his/her own beliefs and biases. And he/she has the courage to clearly state that he/she has those biases.

In a similar vein the great educator both when preparing for teaching and in the actual instruction process, the great educator does not focus on self or on self-protection. Instead, he/she focuses on making clear in his.her own mind that he/she knows precisely what he/she believes that the student needs to learn. on the student being taught and on how to reach him or her, and on how to grab and hold the attention and thought of the student. Accordingly, the student(s) become engrossed with the topic at hand and on the thought process itself.

That also says something about teaching method or tactic. No matter how good a lecturer one is, one cannot expect to drone on incessantly in lecture and simultaneously hold the attention and involvement of students. It simply will not happen, no matter how ggod a tale-weaver the lecturer is. .

wordywalt 8 Nov 14

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I had a psychology lecturer who always ended statements with all right or okay. I swear she did it on purpose as every year the first years all would run tallies to see if she said more all rights or okays. Sometimes she said both at the end. Can't remember her lectures but her voice still rings in my head with all right okay.

I once had a lecturer who said, "uh" 234 times in 50 minutes. I remember only two thing about him -- the tally and the fact that he was a damned poor teacher.


I still remember quite clearly an Teacher of English that I had in Ist, Grade High School.
No kidding, he could drone on and on and on for lesson after lesson enough to actually put an Chronic Insomniac into a very deep sleep.
Yet I also has a Science Teacher that could hold the attention of every student in every lesson because he made everything interesting, asked the students to discuss/debate the lessons with him, etc, etc.
Yes, a GOOD Orator/Teacher, etc, can grab your attention and hold it for as long as he/she wishes and YOU will learn from him/her every time.


One of my own students, a shy young man, was an expert on a topic that I was going to teach a fortnight in the future. We agreed for him to teach that class. I coached him accordingly, and that class was a great success. He also became much less shy.

I had a student in Primary who struggled with most subjects but when it came to transformations in Maths he just knew how it should look. in the end I had him mark the other students work as I can teach it but struggle to visualise it and have to turn the kids books around to see what is going on. The next year when I did it again I "borrowed" him from his class to come and mark their work. I think acknowledging that they have the skills you don't helps them to understand that you don't have to be good at everything and to celebrate your strengths.

@Budgie YES!

@anglophone very impressive, acknowledging your weaknesses really highlight your strenghts, its not comfortable to admit lack of ability, its usually seen as incompetence when its far from it

@Iamcelery Thank you. I was delighted to be able to acknowledge and make use of the specialist knowledge and and experience of those students to help the rest of the cohort.

@anglophone i can almost guarantee you that made a positive life long impact, as im getting older this is the type of mark im striving to make


"No Matter how good a lecturer one is, one cannot expect to drone on incessantly in lecture and simultaneously hold the attention and involvement of students. It simple will not happen, no matter how good a tale-weaver the lecturer is."

So it's unrealistic to expect a human being to listen for an hour? If so, why?

It is the droning on that is bad. There are great lecturers who can spin a great, engrossing yarn that draws the listeners with it. Ao9slo, many great teachers lecture in short bursts of 10 minutes or less, interrupted or followed by questioning or an activity that involves the students in an activity synthesizing or using the information.

The efficiency or effectiveness of a lecture is not how much information the lecturer can throw out, but on how much of the information is understood and synthesized in the learner's own mind.

Generally, yes, it is very unlikely that a lecturer van hold the attention of the student for an entirety of an hour long lecture. The mind is too active to stay engaged without activities designed to engage the mind, to help the student build cognitive structures in his/her own mind, or opportunities to process or apply the information.

@wordywalt Why is droning on bad? Is it truly bad, or have we just said it is bad? Isn't being engaged a factor of the listener, not the lecturer? Aren't people in enough control of themselves that they can listen even to a droning, monotone lecture and get something out of it? If a lecture is being delivered by someone who is droning on, does that render the information invaluable?

I think differently. I don't agree with this aspect of current educational theory and rational that puts all the control of learning into the hands of the teacher, not the student. We say if the teacher is bad, a student can't learn. I disagree.

Learning is up to me, not anyone else. It is not a factor of whether a teacher is gifted oratorically, or whether they are bland as ice. I choose whether to engage or not, and even if someone has a monotone delivery, if I choose, I will listen and I will learn!

We are people who have found this place of agnosticism and atheism because we are not followers, we think for ourselves, we support individual thought, individual choice, and wish more would not robotically follow what a preacher says is true.

Yet, isn't that exactly the mentality we've infused into education, especially with the whole education reform of the past 25-30 years? It's like we have decided that students are weak, empty-headed, blobs seeking an educational experience, and it will ONLY happen through a really great teacher. We've taken control of learning away from the students.

It's a bunch of hooey!! Like religion wants us to believe that we are nothing without a god and a minister we are to blindly follow, current educational theory and philosophy wants students to believe they are nothing without the teacher. If they don't learn...."I had a bad teacher."

They both take the control away from the individual and give it to a 2nd party who then controls their fate.

Good teachers help students find their learning capabilities within themselves, and that includes the ability to listen and learn even if someone is droning on.

@linxminx Probably at least half of all students are not intrinsically motivated. At the K-12 level, that is true of a large number of students. A great teacher teaches toward mastery. That is, toward the m a vast majority of students being able to retain and use the knowledge of skill at least 870 or 90 percent of the time. That means that the great teacher often helps students to learn in spite of themselves.

If the teacher or lecturer does not show enthusiam in the classroom the students quickly notice it and attention may literally go out the window.

@ASTRALMAX I agree that it is easier to listen to a lecturer who is entertaining and interesting. However, I disagree that we have so little control over our attention capabilities or attention span. All of us are here in this site because we exercised control over our ability to be persuaded, converted, and led down a path that is untrue. Doesn't that same ability apply to keeping our attention on the speaker no matter the delivery? Do we really have minimal attention spans, or do we just believe it because we are told we do?

@linxminx There may be several or more extraneous factors that may affect our attention span regardless of the delivery, however, I think that lack of interest probably ranks highly. Have you never read a book or engaged in some activity and later noticed that you had spent a few hours doing so?

@linxminx While I agree that the learner has the responsibility to apply themselves to learning having sat through lectures where the lecturer drones on it makes it harder to retain focus.

One uni lecture in a box of a room with no windows, late in the afternoon and he read the powerpoint slides to us. The slide would appear I would read and note relevant information before he had finished the slide. It got damn hard to stay awake. I took to sitting in the back row so that I could brush my hair, eat minties, work on an assignment for the course (if he said something relevant I could jot it into my notes) without appearing rude.

A drama teacher who read from a book at us. We asked for the name of the book so we could read it to ourselves, his voice was also very monotone. When he took offence at that he upped his game to actually have us do some dramatic work and then he got offended when one of the guys did as asked. He was told to draw his sword but instead of pretending to pull a sword from a scabbard he turned to the white board and drew a sword. As a teacher I can tell you this is not an unexpected thing and something you have to roll with and laugh off. He lost it at us called us all useless and left the lecture. While his information was probably correct and may have had value he did not have our respect and so it was harder to respect his information.

To conterpoint a lecturer in psych (this uni had a great psych team) arrived slightly late to a lecture where some of the students had been out for a pub lunch and were intoxicated. They had brought back with them a small yabby (fresh water crayfish) from their lunch (dead and cooked) after it spent some time appearing in people's bags (before the lecture started) they then put it on the lectern propped up to appear to be looking at him. He entered the room, did a little start, poked it a few times, looked up and asked who owned it. No one answered. A student put her hand up and he asked her if she did it but she had a question about the assignment, he went over to her to answer her question and someone ran down to grab yabby and move him. When he came back to the lectern he started looking around for it, moving objects etc as if it had moved on his own. Students were laughing, he was laughing and then he started telling us how as teachers this was going to be part of our lives and how we respond to it mattered. We then got what I can only assume was a different lecture on dealing with situations like this and responding to students etc. A vastly different response and one that earned him respect.

So while the information my still have value and as a learner I agree you need to come to the party to actively try to learn as a teacher it is also your responsibility to try to engage the learner and to earn the learners respect for your knowledge.

If you do not respect the teacher of the knowledge then you are not going to respect their knowledge. Students will try to push you all of the time and as a teacher it is my responsibility to make their learning meaningful for them. I do not do massive displays and shows for them but I make sure they are engaged in what we are learning.

@Budgie I believe and have seen that teachers come in all forms. Loud, quiet, funny, bland, quick-witted, a tad slow, sharp and all there, or feeling the weight of life on their shoulders. Teachers are human beings. We accept and work with the extraordinary wide range and variety of students who are in our classes, yet are expected to adhere to a pre-determined caricature of what is considered the "perfect" teacher. And, watch out if you don't measure up to this.

We also care and go 210% for students who treat us as if we are a joke, as your dead fish placed on the podium by drunk students story confirms. When did learning become a joke that we the teacher had to overcome? And, why isn't learning meaningful in and of itself? We have sacrificed true, deep learning and understanding for entertainment, pleasure, and a shallow, surface laugh.

You drank the kool-aide. Your a Stepford teacher.


When I had to attend a lecture I had less enthusiasm than when I wanted to attend.

So true

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