The essay begins and ends with the contrast in colleges and universities, "between the amateurism that we accept in our knowledge about teaching and the professionalism we demand in other aspects of our work." It's not a secret that the rigor demanded of researchers is not expected of teachers, for reasons we love to debate ad nauseum, including the ubiquitous recognition and reward structure biased toward publication (regardless of value, whether to the classroom or to the community). But lost in academic posturing and debate is the informed discussion of what makes good teaching:
- How do we measure good teaching?
- How do we teach the art and science of good teaching?
- Shouldn't those questions--and their answers--inform not only how we teach but also what we teach?
The academic equivalent of throwing money at a problem is developing and teaching courses designed to address specific needs. We create courses and assignments to teach collaboration, teamwork, ethics, diversity, and a host of other Real World Problems so that we can
teach students to evaluate claims critically, to see complex questions from more than one perspective, to understand how different groups can view the same situation in different ways, to recognize the long-term consequences of actions, and to master dozens of other subtle mental operations that are absolutely necessary for their success as individuals and for the very survival of our society.And the method Pace proposes to teach those things? It's history. But history taught well, informed by rigor, based upon proven methods, and shared in forums traditionally reserved for scholarly research. Just imagine...