The apprenticeship of teaching – We often teach the way we were taught

After observing Linda’s lesson and holding the post-lesson discussion, I had a casual chat with her. Linda’s teaching is exceptionally briliant for a first-year teacher. She threw 200% of herself into the lesson, and enjoyed every minute of her teaching. During the casual chat, I happened to mention a mutual friend, Ms Becky Cheung, who was Linda’s teacher in secondary school, and who is now working in teacher development. Linda brightened up, “I remember we girls were so thrilled when we got the timetable and saw Ms Cheung’s name there. Ms Cheung’s teaching was superb and was never boring; we loved her lessons so much.”

Academics in Teacher Education refer to people’s schooldays as a period of ‘apprenticeship’ for teaching. In other words, teachers often teach the way they were taught back in their schooldays. If all they experienced was chalk-and-talk, then that’s very likely how they will teach when they become teachers later. For some, teacher training may have some effect in enlarging their pedagogical repertoire; for others, it may have no effect at all.

Linda’s recollection reminds us that once you have experienced good teaching yourself, your conception and standard of good teaching will never be the same.

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