Many people might say that a good teacher is one who knows a great
deal, explains concepts very well, gives interesting lectures, has
a great deal of personal charisma, and so on. Implicit in such answers
is the idea that teaching is lecturing.
If teaching is lecturing, a good teacher should (a) have a thorough
grasp of the knowledge content of the discipline, and (b) be able
to communicate the knowledge content in a clear, simple and interesting
manner. But is that all it takes to be a good teacher? Most educationists
would say no.
What if we begin by saying: “Teaching is facilitating learning”?
We should then ask if a teacher helps students learn
- the knowledge content of the discipline;
- the ability to acquire knowledge from available books and articles;
- the ability to critically evaluate what is presented to us as
- the ability to apply our knowledge to novel situations; and
- the ability to produce knowledge when the relevant knowledge
is not documented in the literature.
We should also ask if the teacher
- responds to questions from students;
- encourages students to ask questions;
- asks questions and responds to the answers; and
- invites challenges, disagreements, objections, and criticisms.
Finally, we should ask if the teacher has triggered students’
intellectual curiosity, made them more open-minded, and made learning
exciting and pleasurable. A good teacher empowers students to learn
on their own.
Some teachers are exceptional in their ability to enhance critical
thinking, others are exceptional for communicating complex ideas
in clear and simple ways, and yet others are exceptional in making
learning a joy. No one is likely to possess all the desirable qualities
listed above. But the greater the number of the desirable qualities
and the greater the strength of each of them, the better the quality
A Statement to Reflect On
The best teachers are those who make themselves redundant
as quickly as possible, empowering students to learn on their