Teaching Secondary School Social Studies

By James F. High | Go to book overview

7
Techniques of presentation

Not a mother, not a father, will do so much, nor any other relative; a well-directed mind will do us greater service. . . .

BUDDHA, 544 B.C.


1. Diversity and Unity of Methodology Aimed Toward Learning

The teacher teaches and the student learns--a mutual enterprise, and there is no one correct way to do it. Every teacher learns about educational philosophy, the psychology of learning, generalized and specific techniques of teaching. It is, therefore, not the purpose here to enter into a discussion of the best philosophical systems of pedagogical procedure. No teacher can learn one foolproof set of methods before he enters the profession--nor afterward. Naturally, it is necessary to have a basic philosophy and as much information as possible concerning specific ways of doing things. From these the individual teacher will find out in time how to adapt his knowledge to the end of furthering the knowledge of his students.

Among modern books on the subject, Gilbert Highet, in the Art of Teaching, has managed to generalize an attitude out of a long teaching career. His book illustrates what each individual teacher must do in the course of his time at teaching. Always holding the goal of increasing his students' understanding, he will take advantage of every idea or method that seems applicable. What works for one teacher, for one class, in one situation, will not necessarily be universally successful. The result is what counts.

Any list of specific methods attempting to be exhaustive would be a veritable catalogue, and it would overlap every other such list but not be in complete accord with any of them. In general, however, there are three fairly distinct large categories of teaching technique, with infinite variations,-and each associated with a philosophy, (1). The most traditional organization of material and method assumes essen

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