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Be a Brilliant Teacher

Dr Alex Coutts, author and artist, holds full copyright to the cover picture as well as the text of the book, Be a Brilliant Teacher.

The cover picture:
Of all the things a teacher should attend to, perhaps none is more important than the range of teaching styles he or she uses. Indeed, teachers need experience in using a wide range of teaching styles, which they can then modify, manipulate and apply depending on their learners' evolving needs.
Yet many educators, teachers and mentors rely solely on the approach known as 'filling empty vessels'. They bark out instructions. They regurgitate knowledge. That is all they do. This dependence on a limited form of pedagogy is sometimes a screen for insecurity and even a lack of dedication and imagination. It is sometime a reaction to indiscipline. Whatever the cause, it has severe limits. One might ask, how does it allow for the development of creativity, innovation and personal initiative on the part of learners? The teacher does all the talking; the learners simply memorise. The approach does not challenge the learners' minds in any significant way. In the 'modern' world, that is disastrous for the individual, and for society.
This book encourages teachers to use their best creative resources by moving from teacher-centred to learner-centred approaches, to promote thereby the learners' learning rather than their own. This does not mean that the teacher must discard direct transmission of knowledge and skills. The approach must, however, be used for the right reasons.

About this book:
The book deals with a range of teaching approaches that one can use for various tasks, from formal class teaching in lower grades of the formal schooling system to doctoral dissertations. Indeed, the approaches offered have wide and convincing applications in informal and unusual contexts and environments, such as industrial training, adult education and university mentoring.
The book opens with a discussion of the diversity of learners found in any learning population. It explores the view that, even in apparently homogeneous classes of learners, the infinity of brain cells that each learner brings to the task coupled to their diverse physical makeups and range of past experiences make of each person a unique individual. Although they might all be exposed to roughly the same curriculum by the same teacher in the same classroom setting, their needs will differ greatly, and each child or adult in the class will have different skills and insights they will bring to the tasks.
This implies use of a 'constructivist' approach that encourages each learner to attack the learning experience from a perspective best suited to his or her individual talents, interests and capacities. The learners construct knowledge in a personal way that makes it meaningful for them. The one-method-for-all methodology simply does not work.
Much of the book is thereafter devoted to exploring a range of teaching approaches (the terms 'styles', or 'methods' are used as approximate equivalents). These evolve broadly in a spectrum from the teacher-centred, command-response method to an approach that is comprehensively learner-centred, as used with mature candidates undertaking higher degrees. This latter approach or style relies on the teacher (or, more correctly, mentor or promoter at the higher level) only for infrequent inputs, with much initiative lying with the learner who must accordingly assume most of the responsibility for his or her own learning. It even encompasses doctoral studies. Here, the candidate must produce significant, substantial, verifiable new knowledge.
This, and the other similar approaches that afford much freedom to the learner, are well suited to tertiary study, yet elements have application even in secondary schooling and indeed in lower classes as well.

This book provides condensed information only, and is designed to provoke thought by complementing, supplementing and amplifying other texts and records. You are urged to read as much other available material as possible and tailor the information to your individual needs. Every effort has been made to ensure that this book is as accurate and complete as possible within space constraints. There might nevertheless be errors, either content or typographical.
The author and Alex Educational shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage caused, or alleged to have been caused, directly or indirectly, by the information contained in the book. The text is therefore to be used as a general guide and not as the ultimate source of information on the topic.


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