chapter  9
17 Pages


Teaching, like other professional activities, is a normative enterprise; it is apt for appraisal according to measures or standards of goodness or badness, efficiency or inefficiency. However, it may further the interests of clarity here to distinguish different dimensions of such normativity, and one way into this is to distinguish the different kinds of reasons which might be given for judging a teacher or a particular teaching style as good or bad, effective or ineffective. First, then, we might consider a particular teacher, or his or her teaching, to be bad on grounds of incompetence, in that predominantly technical sense of competence elsewhere considered in this work. Thus, teachers may be found wanting on the grounds that they have no authority over their classes, are poor communicators, or have inadequate knowledge of what they are required to teach. These failures may be largely, though by no means necessarily, matters of personality, ability and technique, with no significant implications for the moral character of the individuals concerned: it is more than likely that there are many perfectly charming and decent people who could not (in this sense) teach. But, of course, teachers could well be highly competent, even expert, in this first technical sense of teaching, but be thoroughly bad teachers because they represent a danger or hazard to children. Hence, a second perfectly straightforward sense in which a person may be judged to be a bad teacher is that in which he or she is violent towards, sexually abusive of, or neglectful of, the health and safety of children.