Saturday, August 1, 2009

Pedagogy vs. Content

Something I've noticed as I've progressed through graduate study is a difference between secondary teachers and elementary teachers. This observation is by no means statistically sound, or drawn from a necessarily representative sample, but here it is, nonetheless. When asked why they went into teaching, elementary teachers responses often revolve around themes of loving teaching, children, learning. Secondary teachers often revolve around a love of whatever subject they are teaching.

Not that this is necessarily related, but I also am of the belief that secondary schools are the most in need of change.

So I suppose it's not terribly surprising that the Indiana Superintendent, a former science teacher himself, is of the view that content is more important than pedagogy. Nevermind that the research shows he's terribly wrong. But I can, and I bet most people can, remember teachers who loved teaching, and those who only loved their subjects. Which ones were intriguing, fascinating, enthralling? And which were insufferable bores?


  1. I'd add those teachers who pretended to love only the subject and hid their affection for students, because that affection might vary between students who loved the subject also and those who did not.

  2. I am a first grade teacher. I had to laugh when I was setting up my room two weeks before we had to be in school. Every elementary teacher was in his or her room working away. Our middle/high building is across the street and I looked to see that the parking lot was empty. We have amazing middle and high school teachers who are great at what they do. This just made me think about the differences between us. We put so much emphasis on the classroom atmosphere, teaching strategies, etc. Secondary teachers seem to put much more focus into the content area which they teach. It seems as though we could learn a lot of great things from each other. If we could combine the elementary and secondary teacher we'd have a force to be reckoned with!

  3. I completely agree! The main difference that I see between upper education and lower education is that most of the teachers in grade seven through twelve treat teaching as an eight to three job. It is very unusual for me to walk out of the building within an hour of school getting out and I still having to bring home a bag of papers to grade. What is frustrating is when my high school colleague’s call to chat and they give me a hard time about over working. I know they love to teach and are good at what they do, but it amazing to me that they have so extra time on their hands. Isn’t high school harder than elementary? I remember being swamped every night with homework until the week before I graduated, when are they finding time to grade all of the assignments? As a fourth grade teacher, I put so much time into what I do that I have to limit it so that I maintain having an outside life. Even though we are all teachers and completely committed to what we do, what a mentality difference there is between secondary teachers and elementary teachers. Michelle Mellis