From the archive - 05.10.1973

20th July 2012 at 01:00

What makes a good teacher?

A 26-page list of the skills that make a good teacher has been published by the National Foundation for Educational Research.

The paragon of the classroom will be a polymath who can spot the difference in dialect between children from Halifax and Huddersfield, knows all about the various reading schemes, can make mathematics and science apparatus, and is skilled in first aid, book repairs and animal husbandry.

He - or she - should also sing fairly well, be able to score simple orchestral arrangements and play the piano.

Holding a stick of chalk at the right angle so that it does not make a nerve-jangling squeak on the blackboard and knowing the legal implications of out-of-school trips are important qualities too, says the report by a 29-strong team of college lecturers and teachers from Leeds.

Two years of "hard thinking" went into preparing the list, which is designed to help colleges of education turn out effective teachers. It is the first stage of a research programme started in 1969 by the University of Leeds Institute of Education to examine the objectives of teacher training.

In the second stage, which is now being undertaken in cooperation with the NFER, colleges will draw up and teach experimental courses using the list of skills and qualities as a basis.

Dissatisfaction with the attention given to teaching techniques in colleges and university departments of education is expressed by many teachers, says the report. But to produce a list of qualities that made up a "quality" teacher without reference to the needs of children would not be valid.

The Leeds group agreed that teachers should possess professional skills directly related to the day-to-day work of teaching, have a useful store of background knowledge and possess personal qualities such as a sense of humour, imagination, confidence and appropriate standards of dress.

Meeting the needs of children involves four spheres of activity, says the report. These four spheres are neatly turned into language skills, human studies, science studies and expressive arts. Whatever the curriculum for a particular age group, its components should include development of these four main areas.

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