Teaching: Art or Science?
Use, after selection, of materials Classroom management skills Human relations skills Instructional skills Obviously, the qualities listed above are neither esoteric, mystical, nor new. In addition, all but one is necessary for success in any line of work, not just teaching. The one characteristic unique to the teaching profession is instructional skills. What exactly are “instructional skills”? Rice and Taylor (2000) identified these five core instructional skills: Selecting an objective at or near the correct range of difficulty and
level of complexity Teaching to the objective Maintaining the focus of the learner on the objective Using, without abusing, the principles of learning Monitoring and adjusting (As a mnemonic device for my exam, I used the acronym TUMMS to recall these five instructional practices.) The science of teaching, then, comprises these five instructional skills. No matter what subject or grade, these skills remain constant. Both the kindergarten teacher and the algebra teacher must select objectives at or near the correct range of difficulty and level of complexity. Elementary and secondary teachers need to teach the objectives while maintaining the focus of the learners on those objectives. The principles of learning are present in any instructional lesson, and all effective teachers monitor and adjust their lessons as situations arise. An oft-debated topic in many of my education classes revolved around whether effective teaching is an art or a science. Personally, I have always focused more on the art of teaching than the science of teaching. However, in reality, the two are equally important as well as interrelated. Many of us at Otwell Middle School are artists at the craft of teaching. To watch Joanie Anderton in action, for example, is akin to viewing a performer worthy of acclaim. Meanwhile, Frank McCormack is not only a scientist (literally), he is also well versed in the scientific principles of effective teaching. Even the most sterling teaching performance may prove meaningless unless such a performance is based upon a sound scientific knowledge base. At the same time, the most scientifically sound lesson in the history of pedagogy will prove fruitless in terms of student learning if the teacher is
sion each day.