Teaching: art, science, craft or profession?

I have read a lot of articles that discuss the art, science or craft of teaching. Which one is it? Is teaching a science, is it a craft or is it an art? Of course, let’s not forget the ongoing debate about the ‘profession’ of teaching. Are teachers professionals? What camp do you belong to? What camp am I in?

I love to teach and with my years of experience, I see teaching in all these definitions.

Starting with the professionalism of teaching. Yes, teaching is a profession and teachers are professionals! The Oxford English Dictionary (2012) supports this by stating that a profession is a “paid occupation following extended training and formal qualifications.” So, have you gone through extended training and do you have a formal teaching qualification? Yes? Then, you are a professional!

Teaching as a craft is really focused on what you do on a day to day basis with your students. A craft is a skill or set of skills learned and improved through experience. I am sure you will agree with me that, the more years you spend teaching, the better you become. What are your techniques, what is your style and how do you do what you do? This is my favourite part because you can develop and hone your craft as a teacher! There are lots of ways to do this, the chief being Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

Teaching is a scientific endeavour because that there are thoroughly researched strategies and practices that reveal effective ways of enhancing teaching and learning. Just like other professions, teachers should use available or ongoing research to inform their practice. Think about it, as a teacher, you are constantly assessing your students by collecting data about their levels of learning and progress. Then just like scientists, teachers do experiment with new methods and techniques to know what works.

As an art, teaching is a profession where you must pour yourself into, in order to fully engage with your learners. As you grow in teaching, you tend to develop your own set of strategies and you develop methods that work best for you depending on the needs of the learners.

Overall, you will find that no two teachers are the same, we all bring in our unique styles, creativity, talents and philosophies into teaching.

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