Monday, January 04, 2010

Lesson on Teaching

I was reminded yesterday of a class that I took at BYU, and it's effect on how I view teaching. I searched my posts, but couldn't find a post about this, so I hope I'm not duplicating a previously written post on this same experience.

After I was married, I took a Chinese calligraphy class at BYU. My teacher, a man from Taiwan, had an interesting teaching technique. I can't help but think this was the way he was taught in Taiwan. For our grade, we were only required to do two things. First we were to practice the strokes we learned in class. There was no set amount of practice. He just told us to practice as much as we liked, and bring our practice pages to him the next class. I guess it was kind of a pass fail thing, if you did any practice you passed, if you didn't, you didn't get credit for homework. We were also graded on our tests. For our tests, he would give us a poem or paragraph in Chinese, and we had to copy it using calligraphy.

Here comes the interesting part of the class. After we turned in our practice pages, he would take a red pen and circle the parts of our calligraphy that looked good. He didn't give us a grade for our work, he simply circled the good parts, then handed it back to us. I can't tell you how motivating it was to see those little red circles on my papers. I would think to myself, "He thinks I did this part good? How did I do that? I'm going to see if I can duplicate that on the next one."

We were talking last night at a meeting I attended, about how you can use a stick to drive people to learn, or you can use a carrot to entice them to learn. This teacher really knew the best carrot to dangle in front of us! I hope I can always remember this lesson to integrate in to my own teaching methods!


Looney said...

Sounds like a fun class, although the more I practice the worse my writing becomes!

Do you remember how to do the characters?

Delirious said...

This particular class was teaching how to make the different strokes with a brush. I do think I remember how to do them all. However, I did take another a few other classes in college to learn the characters. The first class was pretty good, and I think I remember all of those characters (300 total). The second class learned another 300, but the teacher wasn't as good, and used a different learning method. I don't remember many of those. Then I took another class that focused more on reading, but my character recognition was so bad that I struggled in that class, and decided not to take any more. :) I know enough to know which character I'm searching for in the dictionary, but I just don't have them committed to memory.

Mr. Giggles said...

Sounds like an admirable teacher. Reminds me of some of my better teachers. If you really want a neat experience for yourself, send him a letter or an email TELLING him how much he influenced you. Yes, teachers enjoy getting stuff like that, but it has no small amount of personal power for you, as well.