Good teaching is like pornography (Ignaciao Gotz)


Good teaching is like pornography: you know it when you see it. There is no formula, no special curriculum, no specific programs, no schools of education that can teach “good” teaching. To the question, “Why are there so many schools of education claiming to teach ‘good’ teaching?” an old Zen master replied, “Precisely because it cannot be taught.” There are some people who seem to have teaching in their genes, which would mean that teachers are born, not made. There is such a thing as talent, which we acknowledge in art, in sports, even in business, but not in teaching, as if teaching were what anyone can do. Why should teaching be different from medicine, or even sports? There are many doctors, and slowly, the best float to the top; there are hundreds of sportspeople playing different sports, and slowly some rise to the top. And THEN, and only then, these ones are praised. I gave my first lecture in 1947, and was recognized as “Teacher of the Year” in 1971: there were lots of years in between when I just “taught.” And then I retired in 2001. I have written articles for scholarly journals on the definition of teaching and whether or not teaching should be a “profession” (I think not!), and whether Zen can help one become a good teacher. But beyond saying that teaching is a pointing and a showing, I cannot define teaching. Plato, who taught for many years, thought that teaching was an art, the art of making sure pupils look at the right things to learn. What else is there?

(A comment by Ignacio Gotz in response to the article


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