Robin Williams’ voice as the Genie as he tells Aladdin to bee himself echoes in my mind as I think about teaching styles.
Or, if you prefer, you can engage William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Act – I, Scene – III is when Polonius gives advice to his son Laertes. “Neither a borrower or a lender be.” Yes, I looked this up on a learning machine, or computer if you prefer. (And you can watch the cast of Gilligan’s Island sing the phrase below.) What the heck am I talking about with these opening references? Teaching is not a monochromatic exercise. It is not devoid of a full range of colors, tones, and movements. To sit in a desk and stare at a cut out of a person while hearing a monotone humming is a great way to induce sleep or meditation but not teaching and learning. Sarah Deel discussed how she searched for a style and read to learn new teaching techniques but realized it was her style that needed projection. Her systems and manners allowed students to relate and become interested in the class. Dr. Fowler does not tell us how to teach but offers guidelines that allow each of us to find OUR way of presenting material. She does not suggest clown suites, but that could be fun, nor does she say be too relaxed. She offers a balance to maintain the teaching position and allow for personality to become exhibited. This is how to keep a class engaged in the material without losing yourself.
Seymour Papert gives a parable of time traveling doctors and teachers and how they would perceive the world today. This story is meant to illuminate the lack of progress in education. Why hasn’t pedagogical practices advanced in the last 100 years? It is not fault of that progressive thinker John Dewey. If new techniques and materials are appearing, why don’t educators use them? That is what we must constantly ask ourselves, as well as how giraffes sleep.