As part of PIDP 3260, we’re reading one of the 18 books Dr. Brookfield has written on teaching. (For a complete list, look here – Books by Brookfield).
One of his latest, The Skillful Teacher: On Trust, Technique and Responsiveness in the Classroom (2015) reads like a letter written by a practical friend who knows what you’re going through because he’s been there, too.
He doesn’t lord his 40+ years of teaching over you, choosing instead to share his hard-earned experience and knowledge in a refreshing and engaging way using titles such as “Muddling Through as the Honorable Response to Uncertainty” and “Teaching as White Water Rafting”.
As anyone who has done any teaching knows, there is no one-size-fits-all. Every group is different and what works for one won’t work for another. We wrestle with ongoing flights of technological fancy, changes to the complexion of our classrooms, the increasingly prevalent use of on-line learning. There are days when we are “on” – students are engaged, the classroom is abuzz with discussion, transformation occurs. Other days…it seems we’re standing alone in a room, talking to ourselves. Our words seem flat, even to us.
Don’t worry, though. This isn’t a book of rah rah rah’s, designed to make you feel better but leave you feeling empty (sort of like diet pudding). He promises to be opinionated and not always in line with the prevailing school of thought in education.
And yet, he also encourages us to consider our own experience. He says in Chapter 1 that, “If you don’t already do so, you should probably begin to trust your inner voice a little more and accept the possibility that your instincts, intuitions and insights might possess as much validity as those of experts in the field. You need to recognize the fact that in the contexts in which you work you are often the expect.”
Education+Experience+ Critical Reflection+Intuition = the kind of educator I want to be.