The Skillful Teacher by Stephen D. Brookfield-Chapter 2

Chapter 2 – The Core Assumptions of Skillful Teaching

The 3 core assumptions  in chapter 2 are:

  • Skillful teaching is whatever helps students learn
  • Skillful teaching adopt a critically reflective stance towards their practice
  • The most important knowledge skillful teachings need to do good work is a constant awareness of how students are experiencing their learning and perceiving teachers’ actions

After reading the chapter and reflecting on these assumptions, it definitely makes sense. The first assumption is very broad and encompasses both the instructor and the learner. Do whatever it takes so that the learner the learner can learn. Be open to do anything that can make your lesson effective. There was a point made where an instructor usually feels most helpful when being suggestive and assisting right away. Brookfield makes a point in arguing that. “…the best teaching behaviour is sometimes to leave the student alone and not to intervene.” (Brookfield, 2006, page 26) I liked that point because whatever it takes can come in many forms and there’s insight to the other side of a perspective that is very common in teaching, which is being readily available because you think you will be helpful.

The second assumption deals with self assessment. I think it is important to constantly evaluate how you are teaching. With most things done repeatedly, like teaching a particular subject or class, once you get comfortable with a certain way of doing something you people tend to become complacent. I feel the point here is to strive to improve your practice. Constantly evaluate and re-evaluate what can be done better in your style of instruction. Technology can play a big role in this assumption because of the rapid rate in progression. Keeping up with learning tools is one example of finding ways to improve.

The third assumption deals with accessing your students. I feel this is the most important assumption. This is because the focus here is on the learner. “We may exhibit an admirable command of content, and possess a dazzling variety of pedagogic skills, but without knowing what’s going on in our students’ heads that knowledge may be presented and that skill exercised in a vacuum of misunderstanding.” (Brookfield, 2006, page 28). Basically, it doesn’t matter how good of an instructor you are or how much useful information you have to offer, if you are unaware of how your students are perceiving your lesson, it could all be lost in translation.


Brookfield, S. (2006). The skillful teacher (2nd ed.). S.l.: Jossey-Bass. Pages 26 and 28



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