Thinking and Linking by Joanne Jacobs
EdNext asks: Is teaching more of an art or more of a science?
How about, “Teaching is a craft”. ?
How about a bit of both?
A physician friend was telling me that practicing medicine is both art and science, and it occurred to me that effective teaching has some similarities. A thorough grasp of the relevant domain knowledge, specific skills, relevant research etc, comprises some of the “science” part, while observational skills, social perception, “emotional intelligence,” ability to see patterns and relationships, synthesize information from multiple sources, ask the right questions, develop flexible approaches and solutions, all comes under the “art” side of things.
A book that has nothing ostensibly to do with education, but which certainly sheds light on the interaction between science and art in effective medicine (and I found obvious parallels to education throughout) is a gripping read by Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Jerome Groopman: How Doctors Think
Here’s a short segment from the New Yorker
and some info about the book here:
What I found most relevant to teaching about the book was the discussion of cognitive errors of various kinds, and how expert practitioners found ways to avoid or minimize them. There were some startling similarities between the types of errors Groopman identified and some of those endemic to the world of public education.
Very well written, too. Groopman is a master story-teller.
I had the very same reaction to the Groopman book.
Most art can be distilled to at least some level of competence amongst the non-artists. See paint by numbers. See practically any activity done in human society. It’s not as good as the best artists, but it’s far better than those who think themselves artists but aren’t, and it’s better than nothing.
Richard, what an interesting analogy. And, of course, it implies that the non-artist– while recognizing his limitations– still very much loves and appreciates the art and gives it his very best.
I wrote two posts on this topic in 2005, and they seem just as relevant today:
I believe that teaching is not a science, rather it is an art. Its not possible for every individual to become a teacher. A teacher is one who has the capacity and capability to have patience and guide students in right direction. Teaching needs alot of patience to make every student understand each an every topic. Creativity is also an important feature for a teacher. Thus, teaching is obviously an art.
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