The three pillars of good teaching

After years of thinking about teaching from both the perspective of a student and a teacher, I have come to the conclusion that good teaching is fundamentally comprised of three things:

1.) Competence

2.) Organization

3.) Passion

Without competence the students don’t trust the teacher. Without organization the students get confused. Without passion the students aren’t inspired.

Good teaching is based on trust, clarity, and inspiration, which result from competence, organization, and passion.

A good teacher needs all three. Many teachers have two out of three, some only have one, and the worst teachers have none. For example, when a teacher is organized and passionate but incompetent the student doesn’t trust the information. Why should he? If the teacher can’t do the thing that he’s teaching why would the student trust that anything he says is true?

Likewise, if the teacher is competent and passionate, but disorganized, the student quickly becomes confused. Organized pedagogy moves forward incrementally, without creating gaps or holes that require further repairs, thus wasting time and embedding bad habits.

And, a teacher may be very competent and organized, but if she lacks passion for the subject then the student won’t feel inspired. Passion is infectious, and can spark a fire in a student that lasts a lifetime, indeed, many lifetimes if that student eventually becomes a teacher and moves the knowledge to another generation.

Competence, organization, and passion. Nothing more, but nothing less.

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