What I'm Reading: 2
By Arnold Kling
Teach Like a Champion, by Doug Lemov. As a teacher, I find it helpful. However, with apologies to James C. Scott the book could have been entitled “Seeing like a teacher.”
the “plane” of your classroom is the imaginary line that runs the length of the room, parallel to and about five feet in front of the board, usually about where the first student desks start…try to break the plane within the first five minutes of every class. You want to make it clear to students that you own the room–that it is normal for you to go anywhere you want in the classroom at any time…If you don’t do these things, you risk allowing the territory beyond the plane to become the property of your students.
A couple weeks ago, Robin Hanson wrote:
School isn’t about learning “material,” school is about learning to accept workplace domination and ranking, and tolerating long hours of doing boring stuff exactly when and how you are told.
Lemov would certainly say that teachers should inspire and convey knowledge, but he would say that inspiration and instruction are only possible if the teacher effectively controls the class. Therefore, much of the book offers techniques for classroom management. He has in mind the interests of the students, but the need to control behavior is really at the heart of the book. And if you’ve ever taught below college level (and nowadays, perhaps even at that level), you have encountered the need to change student behavior.
I am very conflicted about the book. On the one hand, it is fantastically useful for classroom management, which is a very important issue in teaching. On the other hand, think of a teacher as a role model. In some sense, what you are modeling is manipulation and control. If a student wanted to grow up to be just like you, he or she would want to be in a position of authority and dominate those underneath.
In a perfect world, the students would just love learning, and you would not have to do anything to control them. In the real world, it seems that teaching seems to require more conscious efforts to manipulate and control.
This book would be an interesting one to read for a discussion group. Even if you are not a teacher, I recommend reading it in order to see like a teacher from Lemov’s perspective.