Summary on… What the Best College Teachers Do by Ken Bain
It’s difficult to think of beginning to compose a summary of a book everyone else is writing a summary for… compounded by the fact that I’ve been exposed to so many summaries prior to reading Bain’s book. In all good conscience, without reiterating what everyone read, I do want to quote what Harvard University Press had to say.
“What makes a great teacher great? Who are the professors students remember long after graduation? This book, the conclusion of a fifteen-year study of nearly one hundred college teachers in a wide variety of fields and universities, offers valuable answers for all educators.
The short answer is—it’s not what teachers do, it’s what they understand. Lesson plans and lecture notes matter less than the special way teachers comprehend the subject and value human learning…. the best teachers know their subjects inside and out—but they also know how to engage and challenge students and to provoke impassioned responses. Most of all, they believe two things fervently: that teaching matters and that students can learn.” (from http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674013254, About This Book).
There is no possible way of summarizing Bain’s book more concisely and effectively.
Every chapter of the book focuses on a habit or attribute a good college instructor should use for inspiring and teaching a college student. Each chapter delves further into discussing what cognitive social science and education researchers believe that quality exemplifies through stories of inspiring students to success.
What is my bottom line takeaway from the book? Question, question, question… continually ask questions of yourself and for your students. I fully intend on utilizing the major conclusions from six broad questions they asked:
- Know your subject matter well.
- Prepare for teaching as intellectual endeavors.
- Expect more from students.
- Create an environment conducive to natural learning.
- Treat students respectfully and fairly.
- Assess and evaluate.
This book will work as a significant reference tool for me, understanding how the best teach, providing a captivatingly thorough study. While the questions and ideas presented are those we, as instructors, should/would/could already ask ourselves, it guides us through how to ask the right questions regarding pedagogy and methodology.
I’m looking forward to looking at Bain’s follow up, What the Best College Students Do…
“Teaching only occurs when learning takes place” – Ken Bain