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Bruce Kirkcaldy October 25th, 2004 09:05 AM

What is good teaching?
I am curently completing preparations for a book chapter and a workshop for educational and medical professionals on "What are the characteristics of a good teacher?". Indeed a variant of this question is "What characterises good therapy and/or teaching?" "What similarities or differences are found between effective teachers and therapists?"

I would be pleased to have any comments or ideas of any kind which may be useful. This could include suggestions of relevant empoirical studies in the area, anecdotal accounts concerning one's own educational experiences, etc. The more suggestions the merrier!

Stephen Lankton October 27th, 2004 02:19 AM

Re: What is good teaching?
I would like to commend you on a GREAT topic.
I also want to submit a person to you for your further investigation.
Lyn Yexley has just completed her PhD thesis on a similar topic. She interviewed me and many others and has great insight that will probably aid you both in bibliography and conception.

She is at:

Good luck,
Steve Lankton

Bruce Kirkcaldy October 29th, 2004 04:56 AM

Re: What is good teaching?
Dear Steve,

Thanks for the "connection". Ive since had a detailled reply from Lyn. I always appreciate colleagues who respond so quickly to help. Essentially to date, judging from the meta-analyses and our own small pilot study, the core qualities of a judge teacher would seem to overlap considerably with those of a good therapist (hardly surprising I suppose!). It does seem to matter whether we look at the perceptions of students or teachers, and then the educational context e.g. primary and/or secondary school, undergraduate or graduate teaching.
As always, best wishes, Bruce

Jim Stephens November 1st, 2004 05:38 PM

Re: What is good teaching?
Stephen and Bruce and Others,

My friends who have formally studied teaching describe their "learning about teaching" as consisting in large part of learning about ways to decipher and "utilize" people's various learning styles. To your understanding(s), what are some of the ways that Dr. Erickson distinguished between patients' learning styles or habitual/preferred ways of learning (formal interviews, trancework, responses to assignments, etc)? What were the kinds of distinctions he typically made (visual/auditory, global/linear, etc)? In what ways did he utilize patients' learning styles (type of homework, specifics of trance induction, etc)? In what ways would he treat patients differently depending on their habitual ways of learning?

How would you answer these questions for your own ways of doing therapy and teaching?

Jim Stephens

Bruce Kirkcaldy November 2nd, 2004 09:49 AM

Re: What is good teaching?
Ive almost finished the review for my presentation of a good teacher. I have found a nice citation for the opening powerpoint. I think it applies equally well to therapists and teachers. I was told that it originally was a quote by William A. Ward.
The mediocre teacher tells.
The good teacher explains.
The superior teacher demonstrates.
The great teacher inspires.
When I look at meta-analyses of studies of effective teaching, the core qualities of good teachers seem to incorporate characteristics such as personality (intelligent, empathic and extraverted), enthusiasm, love of communication and socially skilled, structured sessions and time feedback (cf. Furnham). Added to these are a caring and deep feelings towards students(clients), knowledge of diverse teaching styles, bridge-builder (between family and school), helpful and supportive, entertaining style, humour, intrinsic pleasure in the teaching experience, flexible and experimenting (Rich; Brain).

Stephen Lankton November 2nd, 2004 01:12 PM

Re: What is good teaching?
Thanks for the posting. It sounds like you've really got a handle on it now. Listing all these topics/areas it helpful to those of us to teach and do therapy. As you said, there is tremendous overlap.

monty bandhu November 5th, 2004 10:24 AM

Re: What is good teaching?
Hi, everyone

As for Bruce, thanks for William A. Ward's quote:
The mediocre teacher tells.
The good teacher explains.
The superior teacher demonstrates.
The great teacher inspires.

As this is Ericksonian Therapy's forum, so let me add something for the sake of it. ;)
Well, how about:
The useful teacher/therapist knows WHEN student/client is ready for a certain kind of teaching/therapy.

I don't know if it could be called mind reading? Though I read somewhere that Erickson didn't believe this kind of thing but the way he knew WHEN the patients were ready are really magic. Besides, he always stressed the need of clinical observation and the uniquesness of each individuals.

So knowing WHEN, HOW and to WHOM are the key of (to be) the useful teacher/therapist.

Hope it would help.

Stephen Lankton November 5th, 2004 11:36 AM

Re: What is good teaching?
That is a very good point to remind us all about. There are some intriguing anglees to that problem/questions that raises, too.

Looking at it from a mechanical point of view:
Since we are always scanning for information that will solve our relevant problems, if the teacher packages the information in packets that are too spcific or narrow, it could be perfectly correct but totally ignored. If, on the contrary, the information/solution/resource is move vague so bits will appeal to a potentially larger range of people. This the lesson from fuzzy logic in information sceince. Erickson's use of indirection take advantage of this principle. Then, as individuals orient toward any aspect of what was offered, he would notice and calibrate what worked, and do more of that.

From a more spiritual point of view:
Once a person is trained to do the above as a manner of interacting, he or she should 'let go' and not attempt to force anything with conscious intention. There seems to be a balance between deliberate intentional shaping of information/intervention/probing on the one hand, and doing nothing on the other hand. That is, allowing things to happen, allowing the student/patient/child to influence the teacher/therapist/parent.

With that 'letting go' being done both by the teacher and the student, and awareness continues, a creative magic happens. Observing the process people have come to say "the teaching appears when the student is ready".

Or something like that.

Bruce Kirkcaldy November 7th, 2004 03:51 AM

Re: What is good teaching?
I have to get back to this topic. Yesterday was the venue and date for the workshop which was well attended by approx. 500 teachers and medical doctors. It was also well attended by the German press hence I am looking forward for the "releases" early next week.
About 6 keynote speakers were there, and the initial "lectures" were related to topics such as "School risk factors in the psychological (ill) health development of children", "Perfectionism until exhaustion Determinants andsymptoms and treatment of psychosomatic disorders by teachers", and "The teaching colleagues as a source of support or stress in the social structure of teaching establishments." My contribution at the end was "What constitutes good teaching." What was immediately apparent was at the end of the day the majority of those participants remaining for the forum debate were the teachers (c. 60%) of audience. Statistics for Germany show that for several Federal States around 5% of teachers work until retirement (65 years), the majority having to take out early retirement. Teachers are "overproportionately" represented in psychotherapy treatment. The rate of absenteeism is 10% and they are particularly susceptible to the risks of psychosomatic disorders (6 times incidence rate of most other professions).

My questions? 1. I wonder whether this finding is generalisable to other countries? High prevalence of mental ill-health among the teaching profession.
2. Why are helping profesionals such as teachers so susceptible to psychological disorders?
and perhaps most importantly from the perspective of the audience is
3. What can we do about it? Offering individual psychotherapy would not be deemed the best solution. They felt a more global solution is required.
4. The teachers had heard the impressive figures and statistics of academics but wanted concrete guidance in the implications for their daily work and social and health policy making. Any suggestions would be helpful.

For me there was a personal satisfaction in the fact that 30 years after British primary, secondary and tertiary education where I had felt the personal negative repercussions of some very "inferior" teaching personalities, I realised that these people themselves
not only their students, were very "susceptible" individuals. If Id have know that as a child it would have probably helped! It was interesting that among the emotionally burned out teacher personality, it was the perfectionistic and dediacted teacher who were most prone to the negative effects of stress.

Stephen Lankton November 7th, 2004 08:47 PM

Re: What is good teaching?
There is an excellet discussion about this in Leary, T. (1957) The Interpersonal Diagnosis of Personality. Ronald Press. pp. 323-327. I am about to place below the text from those pages of that chapter that I just scanned for you. Note the lines I underlined in referrence to your question. I appologize to all about the length...but it is an excellent work (sttandardized to the MMPI and conducted with 30,000 subject!). What follows is from the book cited above.

Adjustment Through Power.' The Autocratic Personality (category 11 on the ICL test)

Power, success, and ambition as means of warding off anxiety and increasing self-esteem comprise the theme of this chapter. We shall consider those individuals whose overt interpersonal operations stress compulsive energy, authority, and dominance over others. This is the "11" personality type.
Until recently, these patients were not often seen in psychiatric consulting rooms. The nature of their security operations is such that they were not seen as needing psychiatric help and would hardly consider asking for help.
Adaptive Forms of the Power-Oriented Personality
Adjustment through power can be an adaptive and successful way of life. Included here are those persons who express strength, force, energy, and leadership, and who win from others respect, approbation, and deference.
The generic idea of hero belongs to this mode of adjustment. So do all forms of ambition. So do the traits of energy, planful organization, and righteous authority. Behavior which is designed to excite admiration or to provoke submission from others can be considered as diagnostic of this security operation.
There are many ways in which power can be manifested. Physical strength, especially in the case of the male, is a means of winning respect. Intellectual strength is another common power operation. The sage, the wise man, and the savant are all roles which earn respect. The interpersonal mechanism of teaching is, in fact, probably the most common manifestation of power motivation. The ordinary, commonplace frequency of the teaching behavior makes its power implications go unnoticed. It seems clear, however, that whenever one person begins to instruct, inform, or explain to another, he is conveying the interpersonal message, "I know something you do not know; I am wise and better informed on this subject than you." Intellectuals are often power-oriented individuals who maintain illusions of strength and prestige through their knowledge. The nonintellectual who cannot understand why teachers seek out and remain in positions of such low pay may fail to recognize the rewards and securities which accrue to the pure undiluted power expression of the pedagogue.
Teaching is thus a most adaptive and constructive manifestation of the autocratic impulse. In addition to physical and intellectual strength, there are several other ways in which power can be gained and expressed. Social status is perhaps one of the most effective means of exerting authority. Prestige-either bureaucratic or social-is a power magnet for attracting respect and deference.
Financial strength is another common form of power expression. Most forms of conspicuous consumption are diagnostic of the attempt to maintain a superior (22) or powerful (11) facade. In summary it can be said that the" 11" personality is characterized by energetic, organized behavior, by the attitude of knowledge, competence, strength, and authority.
Maladaptive Forms of the Power-Oriented Personality
The extreme forms of this way of life are characterized by autocratic, domineering behavior. Compulsive attempts to control are diagnostic of this maladjustment. So is power-ridden, overambitious behavior. Pedantry falls into this category; as do status-driven attempts to Impress.
The person who tries to over organize his life and the lives of those around him is utilizing maladaptive power operations. The compulsive person is often striving to increase his facade of competence and efficiency. His exaggerated attempts to be planful, precise, and correct are diagnostic of the" 11" maladjustment.
The key factor in this maladaptive type is the complete avoidance of weakness and uncertainty, and the compulsive endeavor to appear competent, organized, and authoritative.
The autocratic person exhibits his power-oriented machinery of adjustment rigidly whether it is appropriate to the situation or not. He cannot relax his compulsive, energetic operations. In social or recreational contexts he grimly clings to his mantle of efficiency and competence however uncalled-for it may be. The extremes of this type of maladjustment often involve hyperactivity and manic behavior.
In the clinic the autocratic individual is thus easily diagnosed by his inappropriate responses. He does not act like a patient coming for help-but as a strong competent person seeking to inform or impress the clinician.
The Purpose of "11" Behavior
Individuals select power-oriented security operations because they have found them to be effective in warding off anxiety. They feel secure when they are exerting control over people and things. They apparently dread the possibility of being weak, uninformed, submissive.
The rewards and comforts which can be obtained through control and power are numerous. The strong person feels defended and protected. He wins awe, admiration, and obedience from others. He gains a feeling of certitude and organization-which serve as an illusory buffer against the mysteries and uncontrollable possibilities of existence.
The autocratic individual is, we assume, made most anxious when he feels uncertain, confused, or passive. He attempts to maintain security and self-esteem and to avoid derogation and hurt by means of his power-oriented operations.

The Effect of "11" Behavior
The facade of power and control provokes others to obedience, deference, and respect from others. This is to say, AP pulls IIJ (these are profiles on the ICL check list).
In most situations the person who manifests wisdom is looked to for advice. The person who demonstrates planful control and competence is respected.
This principle of reciprocal interpersonal relations is, of course, a probability statement. It can be altered by the personality of the other person. Thus a managerial person interacting with another who uses the same interpersonal reflexes may generate a power struggle. He may: receive agreeable cooperation from a person with hysterical operations.
In general it will be found that rigid autocratic individuals seek out docile admiring followers. They are most comfortable when they are paired with those who symbiotically match their interpersonal reflexes-who flatter, obey, and respect them.
Clinical Manifestations of Managerial Power

It has been pointed out that prior to the 1930's the managerial personality was not a frequent visitor to the psychiatric clinic. In recent years, however, a broader definition of neurosis (as any form of extreme or maladaptive behavior) has developed. In addition, the concepts of psychosomatic medicine have stressed the point that certain physical symptoms can be manifestations of maladaptive conflicts.
For these reasons, more and more patients whose overt facade stresses power and energy are being referred for psychiatric diagnosis. There are several specific clinical characteristics of the power-oriented personality.
Psychosomatic symptoms are a most common complaint. Ulcer patients are classically seen as driving, ambitious, energetic people. Certain dermatitis diagnostic groups utilize strong interpersonal reflexes. Overweight women tend to present clinically in the same manner. Asthmatic men tend to stress power and deny weakness in their approach to a psychiatric clinic.
Some strong managerial individuals come to the clinic because of their concern about other family members. One frequent type of referral involves the competent, industrious woman who is married to a weak, delinquent, or rebellious husband. The managerial wife comes partially seeking the clinic's support in getting her husband into treatment and partially because of her own underlying passive needs. This type of strong woman inevitably manifests "preconscious" masochism and is usually involved in a complicated guilt-power conflict with her husband.
Many cases of alcoholism or gambling present a power-oriented facade to the clinic. These patients see their symptomatic behavior as isolated from their character structure and are not initially well motivated for therapy. The prognosis in these cases depends upon the ability to tolerate consideration of their underlying rebellious or passive feelings.
Another symptom typical of the" 11" personality involves an isolated anxiety attack. The patient regularly uses compulsive, energetic, self-confident operations to handle anxiety. This facade may temporarily crack (in response to a particularly threatening environmental circumstance). The patient comes to the clinic because he is scared by the possibility of a recurrence. (An anxiety attack or any other sign of weakness is, of course, the most paralyzing catastrophe to the person who utilizes power security operations.) By the time the patient comes for his intake interview, his routine compulsive reflexes may be working smoothly again. He mobilizes against the threat of anxiety created by psychological exploration and presents a facade of competent strength. These patients see their anxiety attacks as isolated events, not integral to their strong character structure. The latter they do not usually want to change.
Some managerial personalities (male) come to the clinic with symptoms of impotency. The facade of strength is particularly disturbed by sexual inadequacy. Generally these patients are eager to have the symptoms (which are uncomfortable signs of weakness) removed and are not pressing to explore the underlying passivity or fear which the symptoms represent.
Occasionally some "11" types come to the clinic because of dissatisfaction with their interpersonal relationships with others. The competent wife puzzled by her errant husband has been mentioned. The compulsive, righteous husband frustrated by a rebellious wife, or by resentful children, is another example. Now and then compulsive patients come under pressure from their employers who threaten to fire them because of friction generated by their power strivings. A particularly sad variety of managerial operations is afforded by the masculine, driving woman who finds herself lonely and neglected by men and who hopes to find relief from her vague dissatisfaction with self without relinquishing her compulsive protections.
There is one exception to this generalization. Some highly intelligent, psychologically sophisticated individuals come to the clinic seeking intensive treatment or psychoanalysis. These patients are actually hoping to change their character structure. They may have some of the symptoms mentioned above and are insightful enough to want therapeutic help. These patients are intellectually (and not emotionally) motivated for psychotherapy. They will exhibit their power reflexes but have enough insight to ask for and remain in treatment. Such patients are usually referred to psychoanalysts or assigned to intensive psychotherapy.

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