Response to Chapter 1 in Against Common Sense by Kevin Kumashiro (2004)
What is a good teacher?
Teacher as Learned Practitioner
Teachers in a sense learn to do by doing and not by study. That being said I believe good teachers research often, observe others and think critically of their practices. Then they make changes to better suite the needs of students and adapt information so it is relevant and retainable for students. While teachers often aim to know everything- no one person can know everything. “There is much that teachers can never know about their students, such as student experiences and desires of which even the students themselves may not be aware, and these excesses can get in the way of addressing students and tailoring lessons to them”(p. 7). We must ‘know our limitations’ (p.9) and be aware of our biases so we do not make false claims or teach improper material. We all have strengths and weaknesses. We must build on strengths and be aware of areas we may fall short in. Some weaknesses can be improved, some cannot. We must understand that nearly anyone can teach anything, but to do teach well is a completely different story and that all begins with awareness.
Teacher as Researcher
Learning is meant to be lifelong and good teachers are good learners first. They must be open minded and willing to take time to further their understandings and broaden their world views. Learning should not just take place within books and articles. Talking to colleagues, observing others, embracing professional development, critical self reflection and inquiry are all methods to ensure growth and development is maximized. This process is to be never ending and we need to be constantly critical to ensure we are doing everything to foster anti-oppressive habits. “Learning to teach in anti-oppressive ways does not simply involve acquiring more knowledge about what is out there or about how things work in the world or in the classroom… Learning to teach in anti-oppressive ways also needs to involve examining how ‘good’ teaching can be problematic”(p 13). Complacency and rigid routine, however successful we may feel, can breed problematic practices.
Teacher as Professional
No one person is virtually anti-oppressive. Impossible. Anti oppressive practices take work and diligence and are ongoing. “Some teacher educators suggested that it was not possible to say that a teacher is always or fully or unproblematically anti-oppressive. An anti-oppressive teacher is not something that someone is. Rather, it is something that someone is always becoming”(pg. 15). Teaching is a ‘profession’ and many teachers prefer to be called professionals. However highlighting what makes a teacher a ‘professional’ does not mean they are fostering anti oppressive practices. Anti oppressing efforts are always ongoing and should be of utmost importance.