If I teach, will they learn?

You’ve learned well.”

“No.” I said. “He taught me well. I was difficult.”

From Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews.

If a student learns well, does the credit go to the teacher or the student? In most cases, it is both. There are teachers no one can learn from and students no one can teach, but most of the time the process is a collaboration between the two.

As a teacher, I think that most of the credit goes to a student when the student learns, because I can teach a class where some students learn and others do not. Many students blame their teachers if they do not learn, but I usually blame the students.

If a student flunks and has not been working, I consider it his fault. They have to attend almost every class, pay attention, and attempt ALL of the homework before I consider that they are working. They should also study for at least five minutes for each quiz and an hour for each test. (More is nice.)

There are other things that help. We have free tutoring, some students form study groups, and a good student will spend an hour or two a week reviewing the entire course. For most students, this means the standard two hours of work outside of class for every 50 minute “hour” of class. This translates to 15 credits becoming 45 hours per week.

There are very few students who can’t get at least a C who put in the kind of work I am asking from them. If I eliminate those who do not know the prerequisite material, I have well under 1% of the students that fit that category. (In fairness, the statistics are biased because students who are flunking often give up and don’t study anymore.) Given my experience, it is understandable why I consider the burden of the teaching-learning process is on the student.

Next: What does a great teacher do that I don’t?

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