Monday, January 19, 2009

Topic: Teaching

10-second review: The teacher is both a facilitator and gatekeeper, a coach and a judge. The author recognizes such contraries in teaching and accepts and tries to resolve them.

Title: Review of Embracing Contraries: Explorations in Learning and Teaching. Peter Elbow (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986, 314 pages). Reviewed by Betsy Hilbert, College Composition and Communication (December 1988),480-481. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: Peter Elbow: “ ‘If texts can support multiple and even contradictory interpretations’ then teachers can similarly foster—and practice—a diversity of learning methods. Each of the sections [of the book] on learning, teaching and evaluation analyzes the dualities involved, outlining the issues and offering dialectical methods for approaching solutions.” p. 480.

Comment: The trouble is that educators turn these “dualities” into either/or situations: process vs. product in writing and whole language vs. the basal in beginning reading, for example, wasting much energy, emotion and time on the conflict when both issues can be resolved by combining them. This book and its author, Peter Elbow, offer profound wisdom about the act and art of teaching. Don’t turn the contraries into issues. Accept them and try to resolve them. RayS.

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