This is a helpful visual for critical thinking skills. Many times we try to jump from 1 or 2 to 6!
Archives For Teaching
David Gunner Gunderson, a fellow PhD student at SBTS, recently had Dr. Robert Plummer answer a few questions about teaching.
Dr. Plummer is known not only as a scholar, and pastor, but a teacher who has thought deeply about pedagogical principles. Below are the questions and answers Gunner provided on his blog.
What pedagogical principles do you try to apply in every course you teach?
(1) I think about my end goal — what do I want students to be able to know or do? (2) I love the students — caring for them as persons made in the image of God. (3) I strive to be faithful and hard-working in my role as academic shepherd. (4) I am never 100% satisfied with a class. I always am thinking about how to change and improve it.
What are common weaknesses of young teachers?
A common error is to assume that having knowledge makes one competent as a teacher. One cannot be a competent professor without specialized knowledge, but knowledge alone does not make one a teacher. Another common mistake is that young teachers are afraid to admit their limitations or ignorance. Students need to see an example of humility. It’s OK to say you don’t know something, look it up, and come back later with the answer.
How have you developed as a teacher over the years?
I think I have become more forgiving of myself. I realize that not every class or every lecture can be great. Occasionally, I leave a class feeling that my teaching was horrible that day. When I first started teaching, this self-critical feeling would crush me. Now, I can shake it off easier — realizing I am fallible and limited. I hope I am finding my stability and satisfaction more in Christ and less in my professional skills. I will continue to have good teaching days and bad teaching days. I suppose a teacher who is never dissatisfied with his classroom performance is the one we really should worry about.
When I teach a Sunday School lesson at our church in the nursery sometimes I have this weird feeling that I am brainwashing them. I mean I could tell them that a car is a mountain goat and they would believe it. Doug Wilson has a helpful perspective regarding teaching kids. He says the following:
Think of it this way. God wants the base coat of this painting to be pretty simple. God wants us to teach our children that Luther was good and the pope wasn’t. Is that the whole story? Of course not. But it is the right way to tell the story. You start at the beginning, when the hats are white and the other hats are black. Later on, you learn other stuff, and how you learn the other stuff makes all the difference.
Many students of history, coming to adulthood, come also to the conclusion that the broad, thick lines that drew their first picture of history were “lies” because they didn’t take the broader subtleties into account. But how could they? Either we teach no history at all to children, or we do it simplistically. This is how it is supposed to be.
Now if what a child learns is the reverse of the truth instead of a simpler version of it, that means that an overhaul later on is appropriate and necessary. But an overhaul is not necessary because a child learned some historical sound bytes about the American War for Independence or the Reformation.
I was talking to my son Nate about this afterward, and he compared it to looking at a cumulus cloud from a distance on a sunny day. The lines between cloud and blue sky are crisp and clean, and telling the difference between cloud and sky is the easiest thing in the world. But if you were to fly right by the cloud, you would see that the boundary between cloud and sky is not nearly so crisp and clean. This is not relativism, but it is perspectivalism.