Copyright © Louis Schmier and Atwood Publishing.

Date: Fri 11/12/2004 2:53 AM
Random Thought: There's Nothing To Teaching

I had just returned from the exciting POD conference in Montreal. For almost two days, I ate, walked and talked among a large group of people associated with Teaching and Learning Centers on various collegiate campuses. In my reflections of the conference, I had said that to the person the people attending were a caring and mindful gathering of neat people, of educators dedicated to improving teaching and learning. Everyone really did care. They cared about each other; everyone really cared about their colleagues and students; everyone cared about teaching and learning; everyone listened carefully to each other; everyone was truly interested what each had to say and what each was doing; everyone was supportive and encouraging. The presenters in session after session dealt with ways to improve teaching and learning. Then, last night, still flying as high as the plane that brought me home, I received a sort message from a professor at a northeaster college which illustrated the difficulties the people in the Teaching and Learning Centers face. Short it may have been, but that message said a lot about academia. "Dr. Schmier," she wrote, "I don't see why you make such a big deal about teaching. There's really nothing to it." That was it!!

"There's really nothing to it." You can imagine how I felt, especially having just return from a conference of Teaching and Learning Center personnel who would argue that there's a lot more to it. Needless to say, it raised an eyebrow. I wondered if this professor felt and displayed the same cavalier attitude towards her research and writing. I read that that short message over and over again. Then, it struck me this morning on my pre-dawn walk. She was absolutely right!! There is nothing to teaching! In fact, she didn't go far enough. There are a whole lot of nothings to teaching, to effective teaching:

Nothing is routine
Nothing is mistake free
Nothing is comfortable
Nothing is safe
Nothing is convenient
Nothing  is simple
Nothing is taken for granted
Nothing is always the same
Nothing is easy
Nothing is perfect
Nothing is quick
Nothing is guaranteed
Nothing is insignificant
Nothing is impossible
Nothing is objective
Nothing is disengaging
Nothing is from a distance

Yep, there's a whole lot of nothings to teaching. When anyone accepts these nothings to teaching, those nothings will matter; and that will be something.

         Make it a good day.


         Louis Schmier      
         Department of History
         Valdosta State University
         Valdosta, GA  31698                 /~\        /\ /\
         912-333-5947              /^\      /     \    /  /~\  \   /~\__/\
                                 /     \__/         \/  /  /\ /~\/         \
                          /\/\-/ /^\_____\____________/__/_______/^\
                        -_~    /  "If you want to climb mountains,   \ /^\
                         _ _ /      don't practice on mole hills" -    \____

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