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.