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Re: Today's jaw dropper

I perceive an attack on tenure as per Buckley's *Agenda for the
Nineties*. That attack on Graglia (sp?) isn't an attack on racism. It
is a terribly clever attack on tenure! I think. -Tom
On Thu, 09 Oct 97 00:48:07 EDT David Dockstader <DRDOCK00@UKCC.UKY.EDU>
I would suggest that one of the most important characteristics of a
teacher is enthusiam for the subject. Bright or dull the student
needs to
want to learn. If a teacher can get the student to want to learn
enough the battle is all but won. A teacher who is having a blast
physics, and who can convey this to the students, has from my
a better than average chance of succeeding. A student who wants to
can overcome most shortcommings in a teacher or a school. A student
doesn't want to learn won't.
On Thu, 9 Oct 1997 12:22:32 +1200 Derek Chirnside said:
There were some places and teachers who did turn out lots of top
students. Rutherford and Thomson did, and many of the early
theorists in Germany did.
Yes, but we should question closely whether it was the place or
teacher that "turns them out". Cambridge (both of them) attracts
accepts the brightest--it is not surprising, if they can do a
job of admissions, that they turn out the best. Brilliance in,

Whether the *teaching* makes any difference is totally unknown, so
far as I
can see. For all we know, being there and spending time with the
brightest students in the country, perhaps the world, may
compensate for
the negative effects of the teaching! The same may hold for
Gottingen and
Heidelberg in their prime, as for Padua in the sixteenth century.

As a side comment, there is a debate in this country on 'What is a
good teacher?' and how to use criteria to relate to salary
increments. One Politically right wing term is 'value added'. How
to judge this with a teacher and use it to reward good teachers and
weed out the not so good.

The issue is fraught with peril. A comment from a 22 year old
teacher to me about a collegue of mine in another time and another
"I learned more in (person X's) classroom, since he was away so much
dealing with (extra-curricular activity) that we had to get on and
learn on our own. I really learned how to study"
This interpreted ment 'I got the past papers, got the study notes and
did what I had to do to pass'

Here they now produce league tables of schools pass rates and means
in public exams.
Private schools are then compared to public schools in a lower
soioeconomic part of town (and there are numerical indicators to
determine this) quite uncritically by the public.

'Brilliance' in research is a different issue to success in exams as


Derek Chirnside, Physics Department, Shirley Boys High School.
PO Box 27 025, Christchurch 8001, New Zealand.