Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Build a House for Teaching

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Build a House for Teaching

Article excerpt

I have become virtually addicted to the television series, House, this year. Dr. Gregory House is an emotional misfit but nonetheless a brilliant diagnostician confronting a new medical mystery in every episode.

Aside from the mystery, what I love about House is the teaching. House has three remarkable young doctors at his side through every case. He blisters them with his sarcasm; he rarely rewards their discoveries. But it's clear that they are learning at the feet of a master. And they are willing to put up with his dysfunction and his abuse because they are learning. That, apparently, is reward enough.

Contrast this with the way schools operate. Years ago, after I had spent a couple of days observing a teacher who had been honored many times for her teaching excellence, two of her colleagues stopped me on my way out of the school. Their question for me was simple: Why is Katie such a good teacher?

After years of working in nearby classrooms, these two teachers had never once observed Katie teaching. They knew that parents clamored to have their children placed in Katie's classrooms. They knew Katie had received numerous "teacher of the year" honors. But, because they had never actually seen her teach, they didn't know how her teaching differed from their own or how they could replicate what she did that seemed to work.

The beauty of the House experience is that these doctors never have to ask that question. …

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