Nature v. Nurture?


Some people believe that to be a teacher, there must be some inherent nature within. That you are born with the ability to get in front of a classroom full of students and inspire and engage them.

Still others believe that teaching is a task anyone with some significant experience should be able to do. All these classes we take and standards we adhere to as teachers…they should be able to make us competent, compassionate teachers, right?

I’ve been pondering this question for several days now. I’m not really sure I’ve come to a conclusion about it, though. But I definitely feel it’s something worth exploring. I can see the merits of either position on it, really. Sure, you have to like kids and not everyone does. You have to like learning, and I can definitely say that life experience has taught me that not everyone does that, either. But isn’t it possible to teach the pedagogy one must go through to teach effectively? Let’s define “effective” here. I’m not talking about being able to just go through the motions with no heart behind it. I mean, even if one is not intuitive and thoughtful in the way he/she approaches teaching, can’t it still be possible to impart learning and a love of learning on to one’s students?

I have to confess that there are parts of teaching which come naturally to me. I know that I am at ease in front of a classroom of kids. In fact, I would go so far as to say I am at home there. I love it. I love being asked question after question, I love (usually) having some answers, and I especially love watching students interact with each other. I also love the organizational aspect of teaching. I like charts, I like grading, and I like writing. All of these things certainly come in handy. I also have a very heightened sense of fairness. Now, whether that is due to some inherent nature, something that occurred in my own childhood, or something that I have acquired in having an Autistic kid of my own, I don’t know. But it definitely comes in handy. I’m creative, I like to laugh, and I love to make learning fun and (sometimes) messy. Kids tend to like all that.

But there are a lot of things I have had to learn, pedagogically, as well. And those things I could learn no other way than by observing, listening and learning in a classroom. They had to be taught. But without all of the things that come naturally to me, could I have made it through this last year? Maybe. I know some who have before. But I surmise that those are the ones who burn out quickly. They are the ones who don’t have the real love of what they are doing or the knowing that they are right in the position in which (maybe for the first time in their lives, like me) they are supposed to be. So in a way, I’m glad that this is not an easy profession. But it’s definitely one in which I feel I have found the thing I am best at. And maybe there are teachers out there who can just do it for the sake of job security, but at least I know why I am doing it.

So, I guess I still have no answer. Just a long, rambling post of my stream of consciousness.

What do you think, readers? Can efficacy be taught? Or is it something one has to have within at the start?


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