What makes a good teacher:Willingness to learn

by Mary Ann on September 9, 2011


kid listening in class picture

Gaining knowledge is about knowing where to find information-not in having all the information

teacher reading picture

The willingness to learn is what makes a great teacher

Gaining knowledge is about knowing where to find information-not in having all the information. Many parents worry about home schooling because they do not know everything about every subject. Some of us did well in art but were slow in math or loved science but hated English. Some parents have a degree in engineering but are clueless about English literature and others have a degree in sociology but history eludes them. Because of this there is the worry that we just can’t help educate our children because we are not experts in all the topics that they need to know about. Samuel Johnson said, “Knowledge is of two kinds: We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information about it.”

When we know and believe that we can access information on any subject we wish and that we can stay a step or two ahead of our child then we know that we can help them gain an education and love learning. Knowing that anything we need we can access increases our confidence in our ability to help our children learn anything. All we need is the determination to gain our own education. If I do not know my multiplication tables (and believe me many adults don’t) then I should learn them and then I can help my child learn them. If I do not know why clouds are different and how rain is formed then I should read and study it out and then I can teach my child. We need to understand that knowing everything isn’t what makes a good teacher but instead knowing where to find information and then making the effort to learn it ourselves – that is what makes an excellent teacher.

We error, I believe, when we assume that someone else can teach our child better than we can because they have a degree we don’t have or a teaching certificate. I believe we error when we make the assumption that our child’s public school teacher knows all about the subject they are called to teach.

I come from a family of teachers. My father was a teacher when he was young and returned to that profession later in his life. Many of my aunts were teachers. I have cousins who are teachers. I have a sister and she has a husband and they are both teachers. What I have observed over the years is that many times these teachers are called upon to teach grades and subjects that they have no more information about than the average parent. This week I received a family letter and it had a comment that I just had to share. It is a clear example of what I am talking about. This is from one of the teachers in my family.

dad daughter learning picture

We can learn what we need to teach.

“I had my schedule changed in the last day or so, now I’m teaching Biology and Zoology. I haven’t taught Zoology so that will be a new change and a different one. I hope I can get things put together for that. There is no book right now so we will see what happens. I might be using the Internet a lot.”

This high school teacher isn’t freaking out because he is going to teach Zoology, a subject he has never taught before and without a book, the means he is used to using to teach. What this teacher is going to do is find what he needs to take back to his class. And that is what we can do as parents. We can all help our children love learning by learning ourselves and then sharing what we have learned with them!

“‘How do you know so much about everything?’ was asked of a very wise and intelligent man; and the answer was ‘By never being afraid or ashamed to ask questions as to anything of which I was ignorant.” John Abbott

We should never be ashamed if we do not understand a subject. Because we do not know about some thing does not diminish our ability to teach. Not being willing to learn ourselves, that is where our power is lost.

One of the greatest gifts we can give to a child is to let them observe us learning, searching out the information and then sharing it. It will help them understand that the truly educated person knows he doesn’t know everything but also knows that he can learn anything by reading, searching for information and having mentors. It is a great gift to give a child who can then have a life long love of learning.

father and son learning picture

The truly educated person knows he doesn't know everything but also knows that he can learn anything

Possibly Related Posts:

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: