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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Fundamental Laws of TeachOlogy: a Handbook For a Beginner Teacher

(The updated version of this post is available at: www.GoMars.xyz/6LT.html)


Teaching is guiding students through an arrangement of learning experiences specifically designed for helping students with mastering the subject, including understanding the topics, developing skills, and feeling good about themselves.


Teaching = motivating + demonstrating + instructing + explaining

Learning = goal making + memorizing + reiterating + thinking

Understanding = making sense of the things by connecting the current experience with the previous knowledge, and – if needed – modifying the previous knowledge, or re-describing the current experience.


If a person can learn the multiplication table and the strategy for solving a quadratic equation, that person can learn any high level intellectual knowledge (e.g. quantum gravitation), and there are only two reasons for that not happening - no desire, or a wrong teacher.


If the only exercise students had been doing for 12 years is squats, they will not be good at push-ups and pull-ups. Do not expect from students an ability to think if all the had to do for 12 years was memorizing facts and rules.


True learning never happens by watching, it happens by doing.

You can watch for hours other people swimming, but if you want to learn how to swim you have to get yourself into water and start trying.

Reading (and watching, and listening) helps to form an initial vocabulary, and to set relationships between the current knowledge and the upcoming one. Doing (speaking, writing, solving, explaining) forms the skills.


The “learning space” of students in a class is (essentially) three dimensional: students might differ by their 1. background (previously learned knowledge and skills); 2. learnability (rate and volume of attaining knowledge and skills as a function of time and effort); 3. motivation (aspirations and willingness to learn).


Kids do not know anything and learn everything from scratch. When adults learn new skills, they repeat the same general steps and stages of learning they used to use when where learning as kids (but usually/hopefully faster).


Look at infants – they always try doing new things and want to learn something new! Now look at school graduates – so many of them do not want to learn anything new. A facility which does this to students cannot be called “a school”


The best gift a parent can give to a child is good habits; the best gift a teacher can give to a student is love for learning and confidence in ability to learn.

The art of teaching is based on the science of learning, the love for education, and the passion for sharing this love.


Everybody can drive, but not everyone is a good driver, everybody can cook, but not everyone is a chef. Anyone can talk, but it is wrong to think that anybody can be a good teacher.

A great teacher is not the one who just loves teaching, but the one who loves learning and is passionate in sharing this love.

If you are a good teacher, your students understand your way of thinking and copy what you do. If you are a great teacher, your students can generate their own ideas and do things impossible to you.

For example – for a physics or math teacher.

If you are a good teacher, your students understand your solutions to problems, if you are a great teacher, your students generate their own solutions.


Teachers – like doctors – must take “a Hippocratic Oath” of a teacher. i.e. to promise “never do harm to anyone”, because there is always something more important in teaching than merely transmitting knowledge.

If a person does not like a challenge and does not like learning, that person should not go into the business of education in any form; she.he is not going to be a good teacher, or administrator, or a researcher in the field.


There are three kinds of human practices/projects with the goal of advancing human life: (a) scientific research - the goal of a scientific research is discovering new knowledge; (b) engineering and art - the goal of an engineering development is building new devices (and systems of devices), the goal of art is bringing/developing artifacts of art; (c) social advancement - the goal of a social advancement project is developing or adopting new collective practice(s) (new - for the given social group, but may have been used already by other people).


Every human practice has some elements of a scientific research: when we start a project, we generally have some understanding of what we want to achieve and how we want to achieve that (“a hypothesis”), and how will we assess (measure) how close we are to the goal (“facts”).

The difference between a scientific research and a social project is in “what utilizes what”.

In a scientific research, some social activity is being used as a vehicle to obtain new knowledge. In that case, some advancement in some social practice represents a “collateral” result of the research.

In a social project, some scientific knowledge is being used to achieve positive changes in a certain social situation. In this case, some newly recorded knowledge represents a “collateral” result of the project.


Physics represents the most developed scientific approach to study the Nature. When a physicist is trying to understand how the Nature works, he/she uses a scientific approach based on clear and uniformly used terminology, and on well-defined and uniformly used measuring tools and procedures. Everyone who teaches a science has to use the same scientific approach.  Everyone who teaches how to teach a science has to use the same scientific approach.


People who praise the Socratic method should keep in mind how he ended his life.

For Socrates, knowledge a person has, defines that person as a whole. When Socrates said: “I know that I know nothing” he did not just accept limits of his knowledge, he accepted his limits as a human being. Unfortunately, expecting the same from others had lead Socrates to willingly drinking poison.

Often people who praise the Socratic method do not like when it is applied to them.

Often people who praise the Socratic method demonstrate differences between Socrates (as seen by historians) and themselves.

Some of the modern followers
Did not work for money
Rarely refuse taking money for a lecture or a consultation
Did not care about his social status
Love a fame, see it as a life sweetener
Was indifferent to people not liking him
Usually like to be the center of attention, like to be praised
Was open to a conversation to anyone
Rarely communicate with people who do not have a certain social status
Praised challenging questions
Often do not like when the Socratic method is applied to them, become defensive, consider challenging questions as an attack on their status

Appendix: On a definition of “a law” and “a science”

I) What is “a law”?

A law is a statement of an existing pattern. This statement usually has a verbal or a mathematical representation.

II) What does a law do?

A law allows to explain observed phenomena. But the most important application of a law is to predicting events. A law allows to make a statement about (a) what events will be possible for happening (within given limits, under given circumstances, within a given timeframe), and (b) among possible events, what is a chance for a given event to happen.

III) What is “a science”?

The definition of a science is multi-dimensional.

(a) A science is an internally consistent body of knowledge based on the scrupulous and logical analysis of a vast amount of data.

(b) A science is a specific human practice which mission is to obtain and describe natural and social patterns (a.k.a. laws) in order to use those patterns for making reliable predictions.

(shortly: the mission of a science is making predictions; if making reliable predictions is not yet possible, the field is still in a pre-science stage)

(c) The development of a science usually has two stages:

1) a pre-science stage, when the main goals of human activities are:

* developing a language (mainly naming objects and processes), tools and procedures (including specifically designed experiments) for collecting and classifying data, and

* collecting and classifying data, and

* formulating the set of patterns describing the phenomena within a specific domain

2)  a science stage, when the main goals of human activities are:

* using the developed set of patterns for improving human living, and

* using the developed set of pattern for advancing the science

Avery human practice presents a certain combination of pre-scientific activities, scientific activities, art, engineering, and chaotic trials. The activity which dominates the practice gives the name to the practice.

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