Our traditional "Great Teacher" teaches by telling, inspiring students through eloquent, passionate oration. For Donald Finkel this view is destructively narrow: it takes for granted that teachers teach, fundamentally and centrally, by telling students what they are supposed to know. In Teaching with Your Mouth Shut, Finkel proposes an alternative vision of teaching - one that is deeply democratic in its implications.
Each chapter in this book presents a case study, a story, or a sustained image of a teaching situation - a set of "circumstances" that produces significant learning in students. Each makes sense of the title of the book in a particular way. Each enriches its meaning by one increment. The idea of "teaching with your mouth shut" is explored, exemplified, and varied to such an extent that it ultimately specifies a comprehensible approach to teaching - along with a host of concrete teaching possibilities. In the end, not only will your notion of good teaching be transformed, but so too your sense of what may be signified by the word "teaching" itself.
Teaching with Your Mouth Shut is not intended as a manual for teachers; it aims to provoke reflection on the many ways teaching can be organized. The book engages its readers in a conversation about education. Thus, its purpose is not so much to reform education as it is to provoke fruitful dialogue about teaching and learning among people who have a stake in education.
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Donald Finkel lived with his family in Olympia, Washington, and taught at The Evergreen State College from 1976 until his death in September, 1999. He is coauthor, with William Ray Arney, of Educating for Freedom: The Paradox of Pedagogy (Rutgers University Press, 1995).Review:
“This book makes me proud to be a colleague with Don Finkel . . . and brings more news about teaching and learning than most books on that topic I've read in the last decades.”–Peter Elbow
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