Monday, May 06, 2013

The Complicators

Have you ever listened to a teacher who made a subject unduly complicated? I certainly have. Each time I've wondered if any of the following descriptions are accurate:

  1. They don't know what the audience needs.
  2. They don't know which elements of the subject are important.
  3. They lack confidence in their grasp of the subject and are throwing in additional information as a smokescreen.
  4. They may know the subject but don't know how to teach.
  5. They know neither the subject nor how to teach it.
  6. They don't really care about conveying information and are just going through the motions.
I've also wondered how they keep their jobs, but that's a topic for another day.

The best teachers are able to put subjects in context. They use plain language. In essence, they say, "Here's what you really need to know about this subject" and then they give the important information in a memorable way and usually in a conversational tone. Their goal is to teach, not to show you how smart they are.

That's a standard we all need to keep in mind.


CincyCat said...

If I may suggest...

They pick at so many nits along the way that it actually becomes a distraction from the overall concept being taught.

I'm thinking of a time when a Prof kindly pointed out each and every instance of a lack of capitalizing personal pronouns for God that I honestly could not tell if I had answered the original question correctly.

Michael Wade said...


Your comment made me smile.

I recall a good professor who deducted points from a Roman history exam essay I wrote because I began the essay writing about Octavian but neglected to refer to him as Augustus after he became emperor.

I confess that is one lesson that stayed with me.


Bob said...

You can tell whether students are interested and switched on to the class if not they should be, and the teacher is responsible for sparking excitement and relevance, even if the class is boring and you've taught it for years and twice already this week, the students have not been here before, you want them to leave with something and look forward to next time.

Michael Wade said...


A key task for the teacher is to convey passion for the subject.