This is an excerpt from a discussion posted at the listserv for the AAPT Committee on Teacher Preparation (subscription is available at
To Mike Wolter:
Thank you for the letter, it is nice to have some fresh talk among all the academics discussions (which are too very interesting).
The most effective technique for inspiring learners is to exude
> enthusiasm about your profession and your physics. That has always worked
> no matter what educational framework it is housed within.
In a discussion is teaching a profession or an art we forget that teaching is a mission a person takes to help kids to be better prepared to an adult life. One must love teaching and love helping to learn, and equally important, one must love learning to be the Teacher for him or her students.
When one tries to make some changes in the teaching practice, tries to implement some new techniques, the result is mainly depends on the reasons for the changes. If one worries mostly of how does one look in views of one's supervisors, if the main reason for the changes is just low scores students show on the finals, students will feel it, students will feel that the numbers are more important to the teacher then their students' life and future. This is one of the major sources of the resistance (in addition to the Internet and an entertainment). But, even if a teacher is really enthusiastic about the subject and learning and teaching, nowadays the one has to be much more knowledgeable, creative and inventive to compete to all the "distractions" kids experience in a modern world then a decade ago (and so far, we are talking about suburb schools only). Otherwise, the one is going to become just a nice guy for the kids. It is always a challenge for a teacher finding a balance between being a nice guy and a rough coach, especially when current subject knowledge and teaching skills are never enough.