The Goal of Our Instruction–What it means to be a Professor

 

iamproftshirt

The T-Shirt you see above has been appearing all over Facebook of late, as if it conveyed some self-evident and profound message. Instead, I find it contrary to every value a professor ought to profess. Why not rather tell your students to assume you are wrong unless and until you make a solid case that you are right? Why not tell them to search the Scriptures daily to see if you are right or not? If your professor wears this shirt, run, do not walk, to Drop-Add, and save yourself a wasted semester.

One who taught me the how as well as the what of thinking

One who taught me the how as well as the what of thinking

Are we professors there in the classroom to teach our students what to think, or how to think? I certainly have some ideas that I think are true and important, and I hope that my students adopt them. But unless I teach them how to think, how to know when to swallow something and when not to, it won’t really matter whether they swallow my ideas or not. They would only last until the next authoritative pontificator contradicts them anyway.

Another who taught me as much about the how as the what of thinking

Another who taught me as much about the how as the what of thinking

What to think or how? You cannot do the former profitably until you have done the latter. And you can’t do the latter if your students are not encouraged to question–even to question you. They need to learn to do it courteously and respectfully, but they need to know they are encouraged to do it.

 
Now these [the members of the Jewish synagogue at Berea] were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, searching the Scripures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

Me when my students embrace good ideas for the right reasons

Me when my students embrace good ideas for the right reasons

Let’s raise up more noble Bereans!

Dr. Williams hopes his books are good models of how to think as well as what to think.  Order them at the Lantern Hollow Press estore!

https://lanternhollow.wordpress.com/store/

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About gandalf30598

Theologian, philosopher, poet, and critic; minister of the Gospel who makes his living by teaching medieval and renaissance literature; dual citizen of Narnia and Middle Earth.

Posted on August 26, 2014, in Donald Williams, Educational Resources, Philosophy, Teaching and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. The more I look at our education system, the more is seems as though those in charge of it do the exact opposite of everything they are supposed to do. Teachers snap at their students for asking questions and talking back and then they wonder why their students lack initiative and critical thinking skills! Maybe because for the last twelve years or so all of their thinking has been done for them by somebody else? At any rate, this is an excellent post.

  2. Thanks, Sara. It’s sad when students do not know the difference between “talking back” and asking legitimate questions. It’s even sadder when teachers don’t know the difference!

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