I spend most of my days on the "science" side of education’s science/art yin-yang. Accountability, testing, adaptive technology, systematic design of instruction, cognitive taxonomies and similarly technical items fill my daily to-do lists. The more I learn from statistics, the more I realize I need more than statistics to learn. Einstein put it best (he was the best at putting things best) when he wrote, "The most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is good as dead." One glimpse back into our own education experiences often provides all the evidence necessary to conclude great teachers are usually masters of content and communication. Great teaching is equal parts technical acumen and hard-to-measure soft skills. I recently came across the poem below, and it reminded me of the miraculous balance of art and science it takes to make a teacher.
"Gardener’s Heart" (unknown author)
Every day, thousands of teachers in Hamilton County walk into their classrooms ready to nurture and ferociously advocate for their students. Test scores, discipline policy, curriculum changes, media coverage—it’s all background noise to their main purpose: to ensure every student grows like the little pepper plant.
Keith White is PEF Chattanooga’s director of research and effectiveness. Feel free to reach out to him by email with any questions, comments or requests. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.
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