I’m reading this Ken Bain book What the Best College Teachers Do and I’m finding myself bored by it so far. Not that it’s poorly written or boring, but that it’s not saying enough. Actually, Bain’s book is actually, so far, quite good, and interesting, but the problem is that it’s not doing enough.
Maybe it’s just me. I mean, I start reading a book I think that I will agree with and immediately start seeing issues with their thesis, with how they decided who the best college teachers were. See, I agree with what the best college teachers say about teaching, about students, about how learning functions, and loathe the way many of the opposing teachers think if learning, but I kept going, “Wrong?” or “Come on, that’s too safe.”
One part that got me was early in the book where they were talking about the kind of teacher they focused on and how they avoided those kinds of teachers I think should be expelled from academia (memory bank teachers who just spout out their knowledge then offer multiple choice tests to see if the students are learning, but really all the tests do is test memory not learning…[OK I’m paraphrasing]) but they also decided to avoid what I think they referred to as “Fringe” teachers. Those who worked outside the Structure of a traditional classroom. This is my big problem. WHY? Why not look at the Fringe teachers. I mean, I totally understand, you need some sort of control, some sort of baseline to make your claims, but why overlook the people teaching outside the box? Those are the teachers who changed the way I learned, how I wrote, how I studied. Maybe this is another book, but for me, those were the teachers who really taught me how to approach teaching.
Their ideas were that there was already a structure perpetuation in academia of how a classroom should go. I mean, teacher at the front, students lined up. Chalk boards at the front, screen at the front. ALL EYES AHEAD! I mean, class time—how long is class? How a class functions: Teacher is boss, students listen, take notes, and only discuss when they are told to.
I had teachers who blew that out of the water, and I want to see a book talk about that.
Maybe I haven’t got to that part, or maybe I just need to finish the book and see what it’s all about, but I’m already bummed about the dismissal of the fringe. That’s where the magic happens.
OK. Back to reading. I’ll have a follow up post when I’m done.