TED Conversations

Prabhakar Krishnamurthy

Professor - Management, SRM University

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Who is a great teacher?

After going through different dimensions of teacher and learner; i am yet to find an answer to the following questions;
Who is an effective teacher?
Who is a great teacher?
What qualities make a great teacher?
How can we develop to be a great teacher?
What is the role of a teacher if everything is available in Wikipedia?
Why there is a need for a teacher?
We find teacher in non teachers like Buddha~ How do we explain?
Are we polishing pebbles and dimming diamonds in classrooms?
We find non teachers in class room who just take it up as another avocation to put bread on their table.
Please see Clifford Stoll's lecture ~ is it possible for us to do like that everyday?

Topics: teacher
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    Apr 14 2011: Among the minimal qualifications for a teacher would be comprehensive knowledge of the particular subject, and an ability to communicate on a level appropriate to student(s). There are fine teachers in classrooms today, as you note; but there are also some who don't approach these qualifications. There's a collective price to be paid for that oversight.

    One key need for a teacher is as a guide through the surfeit of information. But learning is about more than accumulating information -- it's about being able to do something useful with that information. An effective teacher leads students to discover and make connections, to analyze facts, and (where appropriate) to conduct experiments or make new observations. Great teachers help students develop critical-thinking skills.
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    Apr 14 2011: Schools are Administration Vehicles.

    Great teachers are individuals who think for themselves and take the time to share, guide, talk, discuss, laugh and poke holes with others.

    Great teachers answer when a question is asked.

    A school-teacher is a person doing the job of delivering a government directed curriculum. Are you judging them by their success as an administrator or their ability to connect with others?
    • Apr 17 2011: Dear Scott Armstrong, Thanks for your posting. However, Do great teachers make you think and encourage questions and feel not at all ashamed to say that he does not know the answer. Is it possible to do it in a class and still have the respect of students? In my opinion if a teacher will be more respected if he or she says that he needs time to answer.
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        Jun 8 2011: Yes, of course. A great teacher will encourage their student to search or study or think, even when they have no answer to give.
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    Apr 16 2011: Socrates, man, definitely Socrates. A great teacher has to teach you how to step back and examine the framework and assumptions too, not just the content.
    • Apr 17 2011: There is no doubt about it Erik. Is it possible to use Socratic method in the class. Do we have time for it?
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        Apr 17 2011: You always have to cut some stuff. I give different weights to topics, so, for instance, we dug down to real Socratic type stuff when I used the Stuxnet vid in my classes, or when we talked about whether the Wikileaks hacking/counter-hacking constituted a "war." Time on topics is like budgeting on a shopping trip - there's always more stuff you wish you could buy, but never enough money to do it all.
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    Apr 16 2011: A teacher that holds true to a "trial and error" discipline at all times constantly and forever. Always adapting, always changing from does and does not work, adaptability, and awareness of what type of environments the students are subjected to outside of the classroom (maybe at home, with friends, or in the community as a whole).

    Wikipedia gives information and does not tell you how to take it in, the education of how to to absorb and to handle information SHOULD be in an educators job. Even in a democratic education system a teacher is needed to suggest topics, ideas, and as well as confrontational input on the subject at hand. Need a teacher even if it is just to start the original question.

    "Are we polishing pebbles and dimming diamonds in classrooms?" involving the academic system? No further conversation needed, yes.

    Buddha was a teacher my friend, anyone and everyone sharing ideas, asking question, sharing opinions about a topic, and challenging anthers thought is a teacher or educator. TED is full of them without most people realizing it.

    Remember where education comes from; environment, examples, lessons, experiences, questions, the list goes on. A teacher must be the person(s) that allow an individual(s) someone to reflect upon where we learn from.

    Why did you ask 'who' and not 'what'?
    • Apr 17 2011: Thanks for a thoughtful reply. In my opinion a teacher is a great teacher if he raises more questions than he answers, if you permit me to summarize your thoughts. The most important question i missed as you rightly pointed out "What makes a great teacher?" is it possible to share thoughts?
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        Apr 17 2011: Indeed a great educator questions and never allows the easiest answer to be the best one.

        A teacher should share thoughts but never preach them, by doing so they have to include all the different angles in which the topic is involved in.

        What makes a good teacher is a teacher willing to say I am wrong and let's figure out why.
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          Jun 8 2011: Occam's razor is the first thing that popped into my head when I read your first sentence, but the easiest answer isn't necessarily the simplest one.

          What I find about education is that no matter how lofty your ideals, or how profound your thoughts, they are inevitably lost if you don't present them in a way that makes people want to learn.
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    Apr 12 2011: I think Sir Ken Robinson is a great Teacher. He is funny and compelling and more than just telling me something he inspired me to go and learn more.
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      Apr 16 2011: But did he show both sides of a story so you could think through the issue, or did he just do an entertaining job of selling his side of the story?
      • Apr 17 2011: I think Erik, He does put forth his point of view; I do not think it is entertaining~ Of course it is presented in a fun way but the seriousness can be realized by everyone of us. What in your opinion should be the alternative view for the same?
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          Apr 17 2011: That could be a very long discussion, but I can offer two examples,

          1.) the powerful research being done showing that having students work in groups on the same material with the same timelines allows for very powerful learning strategies because thinking through the material out loud with peers has an engaging and constructive effect.

          2.) the immense increase in economic costs of breaking students into custom-educated groups. Perhaps Sir Ken can afford the hit to his wallet that would be created, but unless he is able to stamp out money for all of us, the educational system would overtake medicare and social security spending if we tried to accomplish some of the noble ideas he is putting forward. I have low patience for pie-in-the-sky theories about fixing the education system. Where are his cost-study references for being able to unbundle students?

          Now that doesn't mean there aren't inspiring ideas in his talk, but generating inspiring ideas is the easier part by far. In fact, I've never met a teacher who didn't have noble ideas for improving his/her classroom/school/public system. It doesn't rain money, though, and the public is just not willing/able to pay what it would cost.
    • Apr 17 2011: Dear Lee, I agree with you. Sir Ken Robinson did made me think and give shape to my own anguish of not being able to deliver what i am supposed to.