In the first chapter Brookfield talks about his experience where he had prepared a series of provocative questions for classroom discussion. For some reason after every question he “met with blank stares and total silence.” Brookfield (2005. p. 4.) The solution for this extremely uncomfortable situation was born in panic, which was a short speech asking the students to only speak up if they have something to say. He also reassured them that it is acceptable. Silence is not always uncomfortable and to talk for the sake of appearance is unnecessary. Taking the pressure of performance anxiety off, by highlighting their right to silence, the students relaxed to the point where they felt comfortable enough to speak up.

This is just one of the countless circumstances of the highly situational nature of teaching. A technique, i.e: provocative questions, that worked in one class may not be successful in the next. I feel that a skillful teacher is a person who understands that. Understands that teaching is a puzzle. Every time we think that we are on the cusp of finding all the answers, a new classroom dilemma surfaces. Finding a solution to the problem on hand “we usually draw on insights and intuitions born of experience” (Brookfield, 2006. p. 2.) When we reflect on our experiences, we grow from them. And that is a major part of being a critically thinking, skillful teacher.

Advertisements