How Teaching Happens by Paul Paul Kirschner, Carl Hendrick, and...

Screen Shot 2023-06-26 at 6.38.37 PMWho would have thought that a book about teaching could begin with a discussion of the gore of public amputations in the 19th century and blood-stiffened frocks that could stand on their own? But this is the perfect beginning for a book that drives home the point that good teaching does not always look like we expect. It’s not all about performance, and it’s not always about students appearing to be engaged in tasks. Effective learning and effective teaching are not always what we see in the movies or find the most entertaining. Effective teaching is nuanced and dynamic.

From the authors of How Learning Happens, Paul A. Kirschner, Carl Hendrick and now with Jim Heal, comes this reflective anthology of How Teaching Happens: Seminal Works in Teaching and Teacher Effectiveness and What They Mean in Practice. This book is an accessible version of an anthology of 30 research articles and some books that represent the most significant findings and discussions in the field of education over the last few decades. It is a collection of efforts to show us some light toward effective education while helping us avoid educational malpractice.

The book is divided into six sections:

  • What makes effective teachers?
  • What is important in designing instruction and curriculum?
  • What is the foundation of effective teaching techniques and frames of mind about teaching?
  • What is the importance of content knowledge and domain specific pedagogical practice?
  • How do effective teachers interact in the complex nuanced space of the classroom?
  • How to assess learning effectively and ineffectively?

The authors do not mince words and give us refreshing honesty and enjoyable framing. The book wraps up with an important discussion of what each teacher needs to know – but does not – and a description of the “sorry state” of teacher training in the United States, showing us opportunities on the path ahead.

This is not just an anthology of articles, however. It is an expertly crafted teaching tool that scaffolds your exploration of these seminal works and their related content, giving readers access to the content of these inspiring ideas in education without bogging down the reader with overly pretentious, theory-laden, and “researchy” language. In essence, its goal is to communicate the main points of these influential research articles and perspectives, making it easy to understand and efficiently reference. It is also a useful doorway into the original publications as it introduces the main points and then refers the reader to the original article for a deeper dive.

The structure of each chapter enables the reader to quickly access the information at a level that is most useful to satisfying their reading goals. Each chapter begins by addressing why one should be concerned about the topics covered. It does an excellent job of setting up examples that pique the reader’s curiosity and get them engaged. Then the original abstract of the article being addressed is presented. Then the chapter translates the theory, findings, and methods from the original article into a quick, easily accessible format. It boils the whole thing down to what you need to know. This is then followed by excellent suggestions for translation into the classroom that are presented in a brief outline. The suggested resources throughout the book are easily accessible via QR codes and links that allow you to quickly grab your phone and prep a podcast or additional reading for later.

This is an excellent textbook for new teachers, but it is also a great book for experienced teachers, school leaders, and education researchers to recenter thinking on what is important in teaching. As the authors point out, it is only the tip of the iceberg. But in my opinion, it is a very solid foundation that can be the start of a journey of exploration. This book is the necessary sequel to How Learning Happens. Now that we see how learning happens, how does being an effective teacher happen? The reader will find themselves reflecting on their practice, values, and beliefs that drive their pedagogy and be introduced to underappreciated ways of thinking. The authors do a consummate job of inviting and preparing the reader to continue their developmental journey to fulfill their goal of being leaders, educators, and lifelong learners.

category: Book Reviews

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