Technique vs Identity

A couple of days ago, I aired a few grievances about the prevailing school culture in Hong Kong, which replaces quantity with quality. Teachers have to spend inordinate amounts of time on marking and non-teaching duties, so that planning for teaching becomes a luxury that few teachers can afford. In my post, I wondered whether all the teaching methodology training that teachers got was simply a waste of time, if all they could do in class was to follow the coursebook or prepare students for tests and exams.

One former student responded with a different perspective: “Modelling is better than all pedagogy.” Teachers may forget, or be unable to apply, the teaching methods they learnt during teacher training, but they would not forget how their education teachers went about their teaching.

Yesterday, I came across a quote in a book which conveys a similar idea. Parker J Palmer, one of my most revered writers in education, asserts:

“Good teaching comes from identity, not technique, but if I allow my identity to guide me towards an integral technique, that technique can help me express my identity more fully.”

In other words, THE TEACHER IS THE MESSAGE.

(Quoted in Motivating Learners, Motivating Teachers, by Zoltan Dornyei & M. Kubanyiova, 2014, Longman; p. 135.)

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