This week, I stumbled across a blog post in The Chronicle of Higher Education from May 2014. The post asked a pointed question in its title: “Can We Create a Culture That Values Good Teaching?” Instead of focusing on why colleges and universities ought to work on developing such a culture, author Leonard Cassuto offered a relatively simple How— Offer incentives.
The Whys of valuing good teaching are somewhat clear, and Cassuto offers them to us: good teachers have high market value; it’s a skill that works in numerous environments outside of higher ed; it encourages faculty to be reflective. But Cassuto misses something. Good teaching creates good learning. Or, it creates good learning environments.
Good teachers know their students needs and can draw out a desire to learn, to connect ideas together. Good teachers encourage learning and the development of ideas. Good teachers use the tools at their disposal to enhance learning. Learning does not come at the hands of the tools, but in the hands of the teacher using them.
To respond to Cassuto’s initial question, I desperately want to answer Yes, we can create such a culture. But how? Offering incentives to graduate students in pedagogy courses isn’t enough. Good teaching comes first as an ideal, wanting to develop students into better learners. The only way to it is to develop better pedagogies, more robust course designs, more attention to the students and not to a curriculum. When this happens–when learning steals teaching’s spotlight–then good teaching will have become a cultural value.