Thursday, November 03, 2005


I'm taking a Greek class offered by my church. I don't expect to actually learn Greek through the class, but figured it would be good to get a little exposure to the language and maybe pick up the alphabet. The teacher is native Greek; a retired chemistry professor.

Having some experience teaching, and now being in teacher-training both through my job and through this TESL class, I'm finding myself actually annoyed by the course at church: it's not being taught the way I would teach it.

Not that I mind terribly. The class is very diverse in terms of background, language experience, and knowledge of Greek. And attendance from week to week is pretty spotty. So even the best teacher wouldn't really be able to make much progress. But what I'm realizing is that if I knew less about pedagogy, I'd probably actually be a better student-- concentrating on what's being taught rather than the way it's being taught.

But it makes me think about how students will affect a class. If each student has a very different level of experience with the subject matter, it may be very difficult to teach any of them effectively. If one or two are basically experts, a good teacher can co-opt them into helping the other students, and hopefully mastering the concepts by teaching them. But if a few students are at a very advanced level, their's the potential for, well for rebellion. For advanced students to get impatient, to interrupt, to dominate classroom discussion.

Ideally, you put those students in a more advanced class and the problem is solved. But teachers generally don't get to hand-select their students. You play with the cards dealt to you.


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