State Board of Education Hears Case for Pedagogy ; Board Member Suggests Teachers Learn by Doing

By Vlach, Adam | The Topeka Capital-Journal, November 13, 2014 | Go to article overview

State Board of Education Hears Case for Pedagogy ; Board Member Suggests Teachers Learn by Doing


Vlach, Adam, The Topeka Capital-Journal


Pedagogy, its definition, but most importantly its significance in the education field, was called into question Wednesday at the Kansas State Board of Education.

Four educators that each teach different grade levels took turns at the podium, making their cases for why educators should study teaching methodology before entering the profession.

The discussion was prompted by repeated requests from board member Steve Roberts, R-Overland Park, a proponent of loosening teacher licensure rules, to discuss the topic.

Roberts, a private math tutor, argues that a degree in education isn't necessary to teach high-school level math and science, as long as an aspiring teacher has the necessary subject expertise. Wednesday's presentation was meant to explore the role of pedagogy.

The four speakers gave different definitions and examples of pedagogy, but were all in agreement that studying it is a very important part of being a teacher.

Tom Vontz, professor of education at Kansas State University, said the most important factor in students' education -- that can be controlled by the education community -- is the quality of teachers.

Jeff Baxter, a high school English teacher from Leavenworth High School, and last year's Kansas Teacher of the Year, said good teaching methodology is vital to making school relevant.

"Pedagogy is how the teacher interacts with the student. It's about how students and teachers work together," Baxter said. "It's about how teachers approach inquiring."

Elementary teacher Marney Hay, of Maize, said she has been teaching for more than 20 years, and explained that she has a very structured style of teaching. She offered a simple definition of pedagogy.

"Pedagogy is the science of teaching," she said.

She emphasized that teaching requires more than just knowledge of the content.

Jennifer Smith, a middle school social studies teacher from Lakewood Middle School in Blue Valley, added that while the content needs to be made relevant to the student, good pedagogy is also about instilling "hope" in the student. That, she said, is more important than a grade point average or test score. …

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