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Essentials of Effective Teaching

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  1. Lessons & Discussions
    Essentials of Effective Teaching: Course Introduction (Preview Content)
  2. Lesson 1: Foundational Principles (Preview Content)
    4Topics
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    1 Quiz
  3. Discussion 1: The Teacher and Healthy Relationships (Preview Content)
    2Topics
  4. Lesson 2: Aiming at Human Flourishing (Preview Content)
    4Topics
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    1 Quiz
  5. Discussion 2: Aiming at the Right Targets
    2Topics
  6. Lesson 3: Meaningful Planning
    4Topics
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    1 Quiz
  7. Discussion 3: Meaningful Planning
    2Topics
  8. Lesson 4: Meaningful Assignments
    4Topics
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    1 Quiz
  9. Discussion 4: Meaningful Assignments
    3Topics
  10. Lesson 5: Meaningful Assessments
    4Topics
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    1 Quiz
  11. Discussion 5: Meaningful Assessments
    2Topics
  12. Lesson 6: Meaningful and Effective Classrooms
    4Topics
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    1 Quiz
  13. Discussion 6: Classroom Culture, Practice, and Delivery
    2Topics
  14. End of Course Test
    End of Course Test: Essentials of Effective Teaching
    1 Quiz
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“Now, what I want is Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them…. In this life, we want nothing but Facts, sir; nothing but the Facts!” –Mr. Thomas Gradgrind

In the opening scene of Charles Dickens’s novel Hard Times, the machine-like Mr. Thomas Gradgrind gives a passionate explanation of his philosophy of education. Gradgrind sees students as merely empty depositories to be mechanically filled with “Facts.” This is made strikingly clear both by Dickens’s brilliant use of language and when a new student comes to class one day. She has grown up with horses her whole life and knows horses intimately, but is chastised for not being able to give a textbook-style definition of a horse. Though obviously dramatic, this type of focus on facts and trivia is strikingly similar to the modern culture of standardized testing. Students are asked to mechanically learn certain facts to be assessed and graded by a machine. This sort of assessment does not allow for the nuance to determine if a student is learning to love the right things. Likely, clear corrections will never be provided, so it truly is merely a way to dump facts into the depository in hopes they will stick. The growth of the person is not demonstrated to be valuable. Though, as Robyn Burlew points out, a deeper assessment is often more crude and less objective, it can get closer to testing the things that a classical education seeks to instill in students.

“From the heron flying home at dusk,
from the misty hollows at sunrise,
from the stories told at the row’s end,
they are calling the mind into exile
in the dry circuits of machines.”

— Wendell Berry, Sabbath Poems 1990, II