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Master Teaching: An Act of Persuasion?

Cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham, in his book Why Students Don't Learn, suggests that if teachers are to convince students that learning is worth the effort, it requires a significant degree of persuasion.  In addition to citing Willingham, Marge Scherer, in a piece entitled Perspectives in the February issue of ASCD's Educational Leadership,  describes a few of the "basics" required of expert or master teachers, namely that they demonstrate a cognitive understanding of how children learn; have emotional preparation to relate to many students whose varied needs are not always evident; possess content knowledge from which to draw different ways to present a concept; and, finally have the ability to make teaching decisions quickly and execute them.

Teaching and learning both require practice, and practice is work--for the teacher and the learner.  Work isn't easy; it's hard.  While I do not disagree with Willingham that master teaching may be an act of persuasion, or Scherer and the "basics required," I feel that the master teacher's most important attributes, especially when teaching boys, are actually patience and humor.  Boys don't learn subjects, they learn teachers.  The greater the degree of patience and the more humor present, the stronger the relationship between the boy and his teacher.  Master teachers know how to cultivate meaningful relationships with their learners.  They know that the keys to these relationships are patience and humor.  It's really not about persuasion.


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