The ability to transfer information to others has often fuelled controversy about whether the method is an art or a science. Teaching principles have continually formed the environment and context in which all educational issues are considered and determined. Teaching, like every other discipline, necessitates the use of suitable strategies to ensure that students comprehend what is presented in the classroom. While many people have referred to teaching as a science, I believe it is more of an art than a science. Art, according to Tolstoy (pp.31), is the outward representation of knowledge through words, sounds, and gestures. A teacher thus requires the power to fully demonstrate the concept in a way that can easily be comprehended through the use of body movements and other creative forms of art. The idea of teaching as a science became a widely accepted view at the start of the 20th century (Skinner, pp.56). At such a time, the practices of teacher education and teaching were largely considered as a platform for scientific inquiry. Although this concept of teaching and schooling continue to represent the dominant view of our time, I will explore a different path of teaching as an art. This discussion is thus aimed at demystifying the concept that teaching is a science and not an art.
Describing teaching as an art not only requires the consideration of a different framework of knowledge but also a different understanding of the learning concepts. Many as presented by Skinner (pp.60) have argued that teaching is not an art. The claims of such scholars have always been justified by their analogy that if teaching was an art, then there would be no need to be taught. Their thinking is however not accurate because those that are familiar with arts such as music recognize the fact that there is a lot of learning and training that comes with the production of a good song. Despite this, all the technical expertise that can be practiced in the world does not guarantee the production of a good song. The true value of an artist can only be derived from the technical expertise or the practice of the person and an artistic gift vested inside him. As a matter of fact, if teaching were a science, then any individual with the capability to grasp information could become a good teacher. Assuming that our system of education did not accept the students with mental deficiencies, then anybody who graduates from the institutions can make good teachers. Furthermore, if teaching were to be taken as a science then any prospective teacher who has resorted to learn and apply the concepts of the science in the classroom would become an excellent tutor. Another shortcoming of teaching as a science is that there is a small range of techniques that can be used to convey information. While a science department can impart knowledge on discipline strategies or cognitive science just as well as their chemistry counterparts can teach gas laws, they cannot give us the knowledge on how to become excellent teachers. The power to impart knowledge is thus not begged for the ability to present the correct information but the gift to communicate in a convincing and an exciting way.
Just as the painters, the teachers must possess the ability to choose a range of appropriate teaching equipment that can be used in the classroom. The power of art in teaching also comes with the ability of the teachers to pose questions that are not easy to answer. Such questions are aimed at ensuring that the students develop a clear understanding of the subject and serve as the guideline during the class presentation. Envisioning teaching as an art involves seeing the instructor bring a real-world scenario to the classroom work in order to ensure that the students clearly relate and understand the importance of what they are being taught. According to Watson (pp.67), many people believe that championing teaching as an art would mean that our teachers are born to stand in the class just as those other talented individuals who exercise their skills naturally. This analogy is however not true because teaching is not entirely innate. Championing that some people are born to be teachers will hinder improvement in the education sector because the art of presenting information is something that requires regular improvements.
According to Watson (pp.100), a memorable teacher is one that can employ an artistic nature in his presentation. The book argues that the full benefits of education will only be realized when teaching is approached as an art and not a science. While the teaching techniques can be refined and taught, good teachers cannot be produced at the assembly line. The talent and capability to effectively communicate must be accompanied with the urge for our teachers to employ various strategies in the classroom. Just like the musicians can employ diverse strategies in their songs, the gifted teachers should be allowed to exercise their talents in the classroom. The fact that what works for one teacher does not work for another means that the teachers are not standardized products. The strengths of a specific tutor should thus be given a priority in teaching rather than the need to follow an already established scientific path. The fact that outstanding teaching is basically about developing conditions that can ensure that the students learn most effectively mean that the appreciation of diverse teaching techniques is mandatory. Despite the fact that teaching requires some aspects of scientific demonstrations and illustrations, such teaching abilities must be accompanied by adequate communication strategies that ensure that students understand the information. Taking education entirely as a science would turn the students into experimental subjects. Such a move would disadvantage the students bearing in mind that they bring with them fears, hopes and sorrows into the classroom. If approached and nurtured in the correct manner, the students can bring surprising results unlike when left alone to comprehend the diverse scientific facts.
In conclusion, as much as we can teach techniques and strategies that are aimed at producing the best teacher, we cannot teach people to develop the appropriate art of presenting information in an exciting and an emphatic manner. The art of appropriate communication skills is a gift that is present in few individuals and has seen them become excellent teachers. Teaching, therefore, requires more than just the ability to pass the right information to the students. Despite some aspects of science, teaching is basically an art.
Skinner, Burrhus Frederic. The technology of teaching. BF Skinner Foundation, 2016.
Tolstoy, Leo. What is art?. Penguin UK, 1995.
Watson, Keri, and Anastasia Salter. “Playing Art Historian: Teaching 20th Century Art through Alternate Reality Gaming.” International Journal for Scholarship of Technology Enhanced Learning 1.1 (2016).