Teaching and Learning

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), May 18, 2004 | Go to article overview

Teaching and Learning


SIR - 'Let's be clear about who does what in the classroom.'

The answer to the implicit question in the editorial headline in The Western Mail lies in the difference between teaching and learning.

The former, involving the introduction of new skills, requires the expertise of qualified and trained teachers.

Learning, where the skills are tried and practised, is best done with the teacher available to help but can be done without the teacher present, as happens with homework tasks for example.

There are times in a secondary school when the teacher is absent for a lesson or a day due to illness or due to his/her involvement in enrichment activity, such as visits or guest speakers, with other students.

Rarely is a subject specialist available to replace the absent teacher - hence one may have a historian taking the lesson of a maths teacher. The former is ill qualified to attempt the teaching of GCSE maths.

A subject specialist, recruited on a one-day contract to cover the lessons of the absentee, lacks the knowledge of the individual students which is an important element in effective teaching.

Thus, on many occasions, the absence of the timetabled teacher for a day results in the class being supervised rather than being taught; their time is well used in completing relevant learning tasks set by the teacher or a departmental colleague. …

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