Monday, June 8, 2015

The Difference Our Teachers Make, very impressive!

Docere, Delectare, Movere. To teach, To delight, To move. That's what we do.  All of our teachers are knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and committed to classical education.  As such, our teachers are not focused on education as mere technique or simply the employment of certain methods.  Of course, methodology is important, but framing education exclusively in terms of technique evades the issue of what education is.  Education is more than mere technique.  Education is the architecture of the soul, not mere 'data-transfer'. Because of this, rather than seeking out teachers who specifically and only have training and degrees in education, we seek out teachers who already have extensive knowledge of the subject that will be taught.  In keeping with this, we think the following is important when we choose a teacher for the Memoria Press Online Academy:
1. We look for a good working knowledge of the subject matter.
This might seem like a patently obvious consideration, hardly worth mentioning.  Yet, in the current climate, in which education is defined primarily in terms of progressivism and pragmatism, this cannot be overemphasized.  A teacher actually needs to know what they are teaching.  For example, many of our English teachers have formal training in this area, often holding a degree in English or Literature.  It is not always the case that our teachers hold a degree in the exact same area they are teaching, but all teachers have relevant training and experience in their subjects.  Another example is Latin.  All of our Latin teachers have had formal training in Latin, and some hold degrees in Latin and Liberal Arts.  But some of our Latin teachers have formal training in Latin and hold degrees in other areas like Biblical Studies, Theology, or Classics.  These disciplines are relevant and all of this is considered when we choose our instructors.
2. An enthusiastic, confident teacher who enjoys the subject is essential.
Many of us have had a teacher who was less than enthusiastic, sometimes even bored with what they are teaching.  A student is not above his teacher, and a teacher bored with what they are teaching encourages students to be bored with it as well.
3. We look for clear communicators who will carefully lead students through the subject.
Necessarily, an enthusiastic teacher who really knows the material will know more than the student, but has the added responsibility to present the material clearly, define terms, and to use memorable illustrations.  It sounds simple but it is an often neglected aspect of education; students need the material presented to them - the more explicitly the better.  In modern permissivist education theory, teachers are supposed to use "discovery" learning.  Teachers in training are told not to be the "sage on the stage" but to be the "guide on the side."  Cheryl Lowe, Headmistress of Highlands Latin School, points out that this amounts to saying that the best way to teach students is to withold information from them.  This is about as effective as it sounds.
4. We look for a teacher who embodies the knowledge and virtue he or she is teaching.
Students not only need to know what truth, goodness, and beauty are, they need to see it in the teacher.  And it's not only with things like the great transcendentals (truth, goodnes, and beauty), the same is true of individual subjects.  Children will place the same value on subjects that we place on them.  If a teacher tells them what to learn but does not conduct themselves in a manner that exemplifies knowledge and virtue, they will fail.  Remember, a student is not above his teacher.

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