We are not here to entertain, but to teach
- Posted: Jun 04, 2007 at 8:18 PM
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The title of this post is a statement I have heard from teachers, in one form or another, more often than I can count. Often times it feels like people say it to justify boring students out of their minds. Not always of course. And just as often those same teachers do use entertaining techniques, projects and tools in their class. It is just that they resist new methods or techniques that are different or that appear to be somehow too entertaining. One almost wonders if some teachers feel "it was hard (or boring) for me to learn it should be hard (or boring) for my students."
I've always found that I learn the most from teachers who love what they teach. I would also have to say that most of the teachers who love their subject and love teaching it are almost by definition entertaining. They communicate their enthusiasm in a way that is, as a side product, entertaining. These are the teachers who have the best (most interesting, most amusing, most relevant) stories to use as examples. These are the teachers who bounce around the room getting kids excited. And most of all these are the teachers who get creative and find ways to make the subject interesting to their students.
Is making the material interesting the same as entertainment? If not I am not sure what the difference is. Of course the priority is teaching. Even if not every student finds the material or the teacher interesting the student still has to learn. At the same time to more students are interested and the more interested they are the more they learn. Is a teaching technique that presents the material in a stale and boring fashion somehow better, more pure that a technique that entertains as it teaches the same material? Please tell me no. Isn't the picking between entertaining and teaching a false dichotomy to some extent? Shouldn't a teacher who loves teaching their subject at least be animated and interesting?
My opinion is that a teacher should be judged on their results. Do their students enjoy learning more? Do more students continue on to advanced classes? Do more sign up for a class and stick with it? Do the students learn as much or more with the more "entertaining" class/course format? If the answer is "yes" then where is the bad in students being a bit "entertained?"