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Effective or Wise?

Teaching and the Meaning of Professional Dispositions in Education

Series:

Julie A. Gorlewski, David A. Gorlewski, Jed Hopkins and Brad J. Porfilio

In our work as educators, we all aspire to be effective. We also aspire to be wise. If teachers are to represent and advocate for education, we must become the stewards of a discourse that nurtures education’s possibilities. This book explores how teacher dispositions are defined, developed, cultivated, and assessed. The authors in the volume consider the various and interconnected ways in which educators’ values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors are performed and how these performances affect experiences and practices of learning. This text investigates complex questions, such as: How should teachers be? and Who should decide how teachers should be? In different ways, all the chapters in this book invite us into the work of reinvigorating educational discourse. The contributors contradict the idea that wisdom is the province of the lone genius who possesses knowledge that is obscure to the majority. Instead, they ask us all to participate in the necessarily collaborative endeavor of discourse stewardship in – as grand as it may sound – the pursuit of wisdom.

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Introduction (Jed Hopkins, David Gorlewski, Julie Gorlewski and Brad Porfilio)

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Introduction Wise vs. Effective JED HOPKINS, DAVID GORLEWSKI, JULIE GORLEWSKI, AND BRAD PORFILIO For the last few years, Jed Hopkins has used this ice-breaker in his undergraduate and graduate courses. Students are seated in a circle and are asked to introduce themselves and then to share their response to this prompt: If you had to choose between these two alternatives—more precisely, if you had to place one in front of the other—which would you choose: (1) to be an effective educator, or (2) to be a wise educator? It is emphasized that it has to be a choice; that you are disallowed the opportunity to have both equally (whatever that might mean). Instead, you have to put one in front of the other and volunteer an explanation for your preference. It is explained that the point of this thought experiment is to get us to identify which one is taken to be, in some sense, more fundamental. Of course the challenging nature of this activity makes for a good ice-breaker, setting the tone for a course that, it’s hoped, will provide lots of opportunities for further reflection. But, additionally, the consolidated results from this activity are themselves particularly revealing about the way many of us tend to think about education. Pooling the responses of all the classes exposed to this particular ice-breaker reveals that, typically, 90% of the classes choose “effective.” What follows is a discussion of the rationales the students provide. For many, it’s a struggle to...

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