By Sharon R. Berry

Born out of a long time of lecture room adventure, this invaluable source offers academics with a large choice of functional school room administration and self-discipline concepts.

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I believe that the opposite is true, that the starting point for dealing with teachers’ problems should be teachers’ own experiences. In this regard we can learn a great deal from the ideas and practices of the adult educator Myles Horton (Horton, 1990; Horton and Freire, 1990; Jacobs, 2003). Myles was the founder of the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee, and he spent his life as an activist educator working with labor unions, the civil rights movement, and various grassroots organizations. Although known chiefly for his social activism, he also worked out a theory of how to help people learn from their experience.

After all, the brain is a muscle and needs rest and relaxation just like any other muscle. Once it’s been rested and energy starts to flow, the trail doesn’t look quite so steep any more, and learners decide to have one more go to see if they can just make it round the next bend. In effect, taking a temporary break from the struggle of learning something new and challenging allows students to regroup and recharge their batteries so that they themselves decide they’ll make one more effort. The key point here is that permitting, or even encouraging, learners to take a break from the struggle is what allows them to gird up their loins to engage with the next stage of the learning project.

This is The Core Assumptions of Skillful Teaching particularly true for students who are relative novices in the subject area, or who are from class, cultural, or racial backgrounds where speaking out and giving your personal opinion is viewed as egomania, as getting a bit above yourself, or even an act of cultural suicide. Where such students are concerned, a gradual, much longer period of initiation into central concepts and building blocks of knowledge prior to discussion will be what most helps their learning.

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