The quote I chose to write about is “…teaching is frequently a gloriously messy pursuit in which shock, contradiction and risk are endemic.”(Brookfield, 2006, page 1). I chose this quote because I found it interesting and lighthearted how the author uses irony to describe teaching. In most cases glorious has little relation to messiness and in this case the word frequent was included as well. That makes it all the more interesting to me.
When describing the experiences of teaching, Brookfield uses the words shock, contradiction and risk. Does he use these terms to reference how the instructor feels when teaching? Is it referenced for the students? Or both?
As a student, I have felt shock when the subject taught is overwhelming. I can only assume that an instructor can run into shock when an unanticipated result comes from a lesson. “When a racially motivated fistfight broke out on my second day of teaching, all I could do was try to muddle through.” (Brookfield, 2006, page 2).
The other word that caught my attention in the quote was risk. What are the risks in teaching? Lesson plans itself can be a risky. You can come up with what could be a brilliant plan, but would it work for every class? Would every class be engaged because of its design? “…I had prepared a series of dazzlingly provocative questions for classroom discussion that I felt were bound to generate heated, rich, and informed conversation amongst students. I asked the first question and was met with blank stares and total silence.” (Brookfield, 2006, page 4). Risk could also involve the students. Those blank stares in the last cited passage could represent student’s reluctance to participate. This may be due to the insecurity of how their answers would be judged. This is also a risk.
When analyzing this quote and going through the first chapter, the underlying theme I feel Brookfield has established is that teaching in unpredictable. Not all classes are going to be the same. There will be times where things are going to happen that you won’t be able to foresee. For an instructor to succeed you are going to have to be adaptable. For lessons to be effective lesson plans may need to be altered. Different approaches may need to be used to teach the same subject to different classes
Here is a link to a site about Differentiated Instruction. It gives examples of different approaches one can take to alter their lesson.
As I said earlier, I liked how this quote had a lighthearted feel to it. You can tell Brookfield is passionate about this subject and I can find inspiration in this quote. It makes me believe that when and if I have a classroom of my own that I won’t take it for granted. I understand that the personalities in each classroom will be different and it is up to me to cater the lesson plans to the type of students I am teaching. Having the notion that you can teach a subject exactly the same way to multiple classes would not be acceptable. “…, being aware that we regularly face inherently irresolvable dilemmas in our teaching, and that we hurt from these, is an important indicator that we are critically alert. Teachers who say that no such dilemma exist in their lives are, in my view, either exhibiting denial on a massive scale or getting through the school day on automatic pilot.” (Brookfield, 2006, page 9)
The Skillful Teacher on Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom second edition
by Stephen D. Brookfield, 2006, pages 1, 2, 4, and 9
Differentiated Instruction by TEAL Center staff – Adapted from two NCSALL Focus on the Basics articles, Vol. 7, Issue C, and Vol. 8, Issue D.