Good Teachers are useful and novel

“Creative Teaching Is Novel and Useful”

The key to creative teaching lies in finding the second right approach, and the third and the fourth and so on to every educational forum, whether yours is the classroom, the laboratory, the work place. The reinforcing key is to approach teaching situations as if you were applying for a patent. In U.S. patent law, one is required to demonstrate that your product or process is novel and useful.

Novel? What you invent has to be different in some way and has to be utilitarian. Think about teaching methods. Novelty requires using techniques that create interest in the learner. If there is no curiosity, there will be no interest in learning.

Useful? What you offer has to be important to the learner. Thus, information and skills put on the table have to be up-to-date and relevant to the learner. Forget the “Take my word for it, you will need this later.”

Good teachers look at teaching as like giving. If nothing was received, nothing was given. LIkewise, if nothing was learned, there was no teaching. Good teachers see “teaching” as a special verb. Fault is not the issue. It may or may not be the teacher’s fault if there was no learning. In any case, if not learning, let’s not call it teaching.

Good teachers look at teaching like offering. Hmmm, a change of view. Now let’s take the burden off the teacher’s shoulders. The learner has to take some responsibility here. So, how about the offer? There are good and bad offers. The good teacher is authentic and welcoming.

Teachers who are novel, but not useful, are charlatans

Teachers who are useful, but not novel, are pedantic bores.

Teachers who are neither novel nor useful are tenured faculty oops, I meant “old goats.”

Good teachers are novel and useful. They are creative. They do not lecture students to death. They use stories, anecdotes, role plays, demonstrations, brainstorming, debates, problems. What all these methods share is an active role for students.

In one study, an actor was hired to be a guest professor. “Dr. Fox” taught different groups of students. He could enliven the students on command. He could put them to sleep. He got the highest student evaluations AND the best test results when he combined interesting (novel) teaching methods with a moderate amount of content (useful) that was not too much (information overload) and not too little (lightweight, all entertainment).

Good teachers enliven. They enlarge. The enlighten. These are the Three E’s of the oldest education forum in history: the theater. No, teaching is not acting, but why not use what works so long as we do not neglect content. Process and Content. Novel and Useful. Giving and Offering. Whew! There is a lot to good teaching that uses creative teaching methods. But, here is the Big Payoff. Using creative teaching methods is Win Win. Students learn a lot and like learning. Teachers live to teach again and again by preventing burn out due to repetition. And, besides. Who wants to be an Old Goat?