Teaching: How Should it Go About?

What’s the proper way to teach something? This is the question that I have been thinking about lately and I will give my take on it.

But, first of all, talking about forms of teaching, I think the best for the  student is a 1:1 student-teacher ratio. That means that it’s better to just have one student with each teacher. Why? Well, because that way the student has to be most attentive, he gets to actively participate more and there can be no slacking. This if of course mainly about language teaching but I don’t think teaching in general is much different.

The method

I’ve had seen some methods that work well and some that don’t. Talking about language teaching, I think Michel Thomas had it. But… there is nothing that should be copyrighted about his method. And he didn’t follow what I’m about to tell you exactly. Basically, I think teaching boils down to a couple of simple things. Here they are:

  • teaching one piece at a time – this is crucial; you teach in small bits not to overwhelm somebody; you can do it for everything;
  • student feedback after each piece – after you introduce every single piece, you must make sure your student understands it; you must get the student to actively participate and communicate you back the piece you have just taught him; you just make sure it was right
  • all inclusive teaching – your teaching must build up on itself and you must cover everything without leaving something out (for simple things, you should still make sure that your student understands it by asking to communicate it to you)

That’s it. I think you can teach anything like that. You just keep presenting information one bit at a time and later connecting them and after each piece or each time you connect them, you must ask your student to communicate back to you what he has learnt to make sure he has really learnt it; if he hasn’t, you should get back to the piece or the connection where it started and perhaps reintroduce or just remind and so keep reminding everything until you can get your student to get it right.

I am no teacher and I haven’t got that much of a background in teaching. Still, I think these are the minimum requirements. There are other clever bits and techniques than can and should be used to make teaching more effective. Just one of them, for example, is always to introduce the general rule before introducing any of the exceptions. If you are teaching bunny breading and there is a rule which says that all bunnies are white but there are exceptions having to do with bunnies from Asia, you still teach that bunnies are white and get your student to learn it; only then, when he has internalized that all bunnies are white, you tell him that oh well, that wasn’t entirely true, some who are from Asia are not white. This way you can make it into two pieces instead of saying “bunnies are white except those from Asia” all at once.  Of course, there are many other techniques like that that could be used. I’m not pretending, however, that I know many of them. I just wanted to get (in my opinion) the basics down.

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