JACKSON, Tenn. – Jan. 7, 2011 – Success in teaching comes not from merely relaying facts and information to students, but in building relationships that transform education into something meaningful for each individual student, according to a new book by two Union University educators.
“Transformational Teaching in the Information Age,” by Thomas R. Rosebrough, executive dean of the College of Education and Human Studies, and Ralph G. Leverett, university professor of special education and director of the Master of Education program in Jackson, is designed to help teachers be more effective by placing learners in the center of the classroom.
“In my heart of hearts, I think education is meant not just to inform, but to transform,” Rosebrough said. “That means, in practicality, that teachers need to focus on what their students know, what their students can do and what kind of people their students are becoming. In a word, that’s holism. Education has the holistic power to transform lives.”
Leverett said he and Rosebrough have become concerned in recent years about the trend toward what he calls “assembly line learning,” especially in public schools.
“We’ve taught students somehow that a high score is maybe the only thing of value – but it doesn’t necessarily mean that there has been any transformation in thinking and learning,” Leverett said. “What is measurable is OK, but a lot of what is important can’t be measured by traditional educational methods.”
Rosebrough and Leverett referenced an interview in Newsweek several years ago with the education minister in Singapore, who noted that despite the traditionally high test scores in Asian countries, Western countries – especially the United States – are the ones turning out the Nobel Prize winners and the world’s leading mathematicians and scientists.
The reason for that, the education minister said, was while Asia focused on test results, the United States has had a culture that encouraged initiative, curiosity and imagination.
“Here we are, in the United States, trying to imitate Asian countries even as they’re trying to imitate us,” Rosebrough said.
The book focuses on a teacher’s three roles as scholar, practitioner and relater, and provides strategies with how teachers can inspire their students to be creative, curious and imaginative in their approach to education. Higher test scores come not from focusing on the results, but focusing on inspiration and the learning process, the authors contend.
“Achievement scores are a byproduct of process, of great teachers fostering the strategic learning qualities of persistence, openness, civility, skepticism, imagination and curiosity,” Rosebrough said.
The authors argue in the book that teaching is academic, social and spiritual. The tendency in educational circles is to focus on one aspect – but doing so results in the loss of all three, they say.
Published by ASCD Books, “Transformational Teaching in the Information Age” is designed for teachers at all levels, from preschool through graduate school.
“This is a practitioner’s text because it applies learning theory to pedagogy,” Rosebrough and Leverett write in the book’s preface. “It moves the teacher from pedagogical concepts to an understanding of how to teach to transform and illuminate. This book is also for the teacher who likes to reflect upon the challenge of connecting the two great goals in education: academic and social.”
The book is divided into two parts: the first that explores relevant concepts for why teaching is done, and the second that addresses relevant strategies for how teaching should be done, especially in an age when teachers have to compete with all kinds of digital devices, omnipresent media, shorter attention spans and shifts in value systems.