Saturday, April 21, 2018

James Buchanan on His Teaching Method

I'm not sure giving students the impression they may have something when they are in error is a good way to teach. It strikes me that it is coddling weakness and confusion.

Isn't a teacher's attempt to keep students on their toes a much better method of teaching à la John Houseman? Is a teacher supposed to impart knowledge or be just one more friend?

An acquittance of mine recently switched from gender studies to accounting. She tells me one of the major differences was how gender studies professors coddled students. She was once allowed to turn in a final paper in one class a year late.

Now, in the business class environment at the same university, she says the professors just don't coddle.

In fact, in one accounting course, she appears to have a Houseman like professor.  On the first day of class, he threw a girl out of his course for being 10 minutes late.

Overall, the class started with about 40 students and is down to about 25. But those 25 will surely get a very solid grounding in accounting.

There are probably teaching methods, that don't go to Houseman extremes, that can be effective. But coddling error does not strike me as particularly useful.

-Robert Wenzel  

(ht Peter Boettke)

1 comment:

  1. Every student arrives as is and must either be taught as is or shown the door. The teacher who coddles and the teacher who dominates are both engaging in different flavors of "not teaching". If a student is unprepared but non-disruptive... let him flap around and drown. It will be good for him.

    I once confronted a german chemistry teacher who was so concerned about maintaining discipline with his whiny American students that he locked the only door out of the lab, which is a huge safety problem. I told him if he locks it again I'm calling the fire Marshall. The guy simply did not know how to teach, so he resorted to trying to control.

    I find most teachers have shockingly fragile egos and most of what goes on in the classroom is a sort of self-idolizing pageantry.