“Skillful Teaching is Whatever Helps The Student Learn”(p15)…Well of course I hear you say, as does Brookfield, but this is not as obvious as it may sound. This is the first of Brookfield’s four assumptions of skillful teaching. So, what does he really mean? My view, is that we all have our preferred strategies or tried and tested methods which, for the ‘most part’ work very well. We have opinions, biases, personal preference which, no matter how hard we try, will always cloud certain areas of our practice. The problem is that our classrooms only ever get more diverse, whether that be culturally, personally or educationally. Therefore, what works for one student, may not work for another and before you know it you’re playing classroom whack-a-mole trying to get learning to stick with each individual before jumping to the next. Brookfield states “These habits of mind and of practice can be extremely useful in helping us set up our class” (p16) in other words, go ahead, use what you know works as a baseline, but be mindful that
an approach that one student finds particularly useful or congenial may well be profoundly unsettling and confusing to the student sitting next to her
Brookfield advises us that sometimes “there are times where a commitment to behaving in ways that we assume are professional gets in the way of helping students learn” We should be open to adversity but flexible enough in our practice and to deal with such. Of course, we need to remain professional but sometimes we need to get it taught…whatever it takes.