“The Scholarship of Teaching.” Do we ever think about teaching in that way?
schol-ar-ship [ˈskɒləʃɪp] n.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as:
:: knowledge resulting from study and research in a particular field ::
The Collins English Dictionary defines is as:
:: academic achievement; erudition; learning ::
But the definition of ‘scholarship’ that made me think comes from the second definition found in the Merriam Webster dictionary:
:: the character, qualities, activity, or attainments of a scholar ::
Ok, so the definition from the Merriam Webster dictionary used the word to define the word, which is a big no-no, but its so obvious. Teachers are scholars, are they not? Just for fun I typed scholar in the thesaurus and it defined is as “person who is very involved in education and learning” and some of its synonyms were academic, critic, disciple, intellectual, learned person, learner, philosopher, professor, pupil, sage, student, and teacher.
So what is with this vocabulary lesson you may ask?
A teacher must always be a student first. It is impossible to teach without learning whether its the content or about who you are teaching. So really, when I read “The Scholarship of Teaching” the title is redundant and I hope that people are understanding what I am trying to convey with my lesson on words and vocabulary.
If not, let me simplify it and just say that everything Bender and Gray (1999) says about what teachers should be doing is spot on. I used Diigo to read through the article, highlight points, and make sticky notes and decided to share my notes to practice the notion of making things public (quick learner here). The only downfall is that my sticky notes do not show where they were placed.
On a more personal note about who I am as a teacher scholar…
I am the type of person who wants to do everything right. I always want to be better and I like to research. This is one trait that I really like about myself because it keeps me engaged. I enjoy reading up on new techniques and theories. I build on what I have and am constantly asking myself how that could have gone better. I am open with my students and I expect their feedback about the lessons I teach and ask them what I could do next time to make it better. I also enjoy collaborating with colleagues and asking them for help when I need it. I agree with Bender and Gray that teaching can at times feel like an isolated career but it shouldn’t be. Its easy to keep it an isolated career but what joy is that? I don’t ever want to become the “comfortable” teacher who uses the same thing term after term, year after year. The world is constantly changing, the students are constantly changing, and the content is constantly changing. Teaching cannot be stagnant.
It kills me when I hear students complaining about how much they hate The Great Gatsby and To Kill a Mockingbird. These are classic books that teach great lessons. Teachers cannot expect to teach it in the same mundane fashion as they did when I was a student and when the books first came out. The
number one reason students hate these books is because they feel so disconnected from it.
What do the time periods of these great novels mean for students today?
It doesn’t mean much by themselves. We need to create ways to grab the attention of our students, to make connections and correlations, show them that the setting and time period are minor details.
Research, explore, learn, and try to make everything come to life. Idealistic? I don’t think so. Why isn’t it an expectation or an obvious part of being a teacher?