A bold redefinition of our most basic understanding of teaching—and learning—in classrooms and in life
“What a fascinating idea . . . [a] challenging and inspiring work.”
Almost since the first school bell rang, experts and everyday people alike have grappled with what teaching is all about. An adult at the front of the room imparting knowledge to rows of children lives on as the persistent stock image of a classroom, and opinions about what teachers should do and how they should do it are endless. Yet few have dared to question the very foundation upon which our most basic notions of teaching are built. Now Vanessa Rodriguez, a former classroom teacher herself, challenges widely accepted theories of teaching and offers a unique idea based on a simple yet empowering truth: we are all teachers.
In The Teaching Brain, Rodriguez and co-author Michelle Fitzpatrick draw on the science of human development to redefine teaching as an evolutionary cognitive skill that develops in all people over time. On a journey through the inherently interactive nature of teaching, the book marshals a wealth of research and experience to construct an entirely innovative framework for thinking about, talking about, and supporting this essential social endeavor. Familiar classroom examples are punctuated by rarely discerned glimpses into teaching. Bored and cooped up, Thomas, age seven, teaches his four-year-old brother how to play Mouse Trap; Eva’s father, during a typical before-school routine, must teach her to button a coat because she’s only ever snapped one; and Claire, a veteran classroom teacher, skillfully turns a student’s witty remark into an engaging way for her students to choose summer reads: speed-dating their books.
Resisting the shortsighted trend of offering one-size-fits-all and quick-fix solutions—and combating the persistent tendency to draw sweeping conclusions from only observing teaching in action—Rodriguez and Fitzpatrick detail five distinct areas of awareness that must be carefully developed to become an expert teacher and provide a survey specifically designed to appraise your own teaching brain. The first attempt to fully map the mind of a teacher, The Teaching Brain delves into the developmental stages of teaching and unearths why, at a time when attacks on teachers are epidemic, professional teachers are so crucial and so valuable.
In an original work at the intersection of education, neuroscience, and everyday experience, the insight in these pages breaks new ground with a game-changing analysis that transforms common notions of teaching, illuminates the role and ability of teachers, and delivers new tools for making sense of the onerous reform battles engulfing educators, schools, and communities today. Filled with fresh inspiration for all who are working toward truly meaningful educational reform, The Teaching Brain is a novel book for parents, teachers, and anyone desiring a better understanding of how the mind works—one that challenges assumptions, uncovers the mystery of teaching, and unlocks the teaching brain in all of us.