Academic Minute Podcast

Marshall Jones, Winthrop University – Why Teaching is Harder Than You Think

The pandemic has made certain jobs even harder.

Marshall Jones, professor and graduate program director in learning design and technology at Winthrop University, explores one occupation that was already difficult.

Dr. Marshall G. Jones is a scholar and teacher with nearly 30 years of experience in preparing teachers in K-12 schools, higher education, and other professional learning environments. His research focuses on learning design, online learning, emerging technologies for learning and development, and multimedia. Dr. Jones has worked with K-12 schools, higher education, and corporate learning and development in the US and in multiple countries around the world.

Why Teaching is Harder Than You Think


Teaching is harder than you think. Some think teaching is a lecture and then a test. Others think that any expert in content knowledge can teach. Both of these assumptions are wrong.

Teaching is more than telling. Parents understand that telling their children to do something is no guarantee they will do it. Parents don’t just tell kids to do their chores or brush their teeth, they demonstrate how, explain the importance, create safe environments and incentives and disincentives to help their children grow and learn. Classroom teaching works the same way. A lot happens between telling and testing. Teachers create safe opportunities to practice and provide helpful feedback. Teachers connect new learning to existing knowledge and help students transfer all of that to even newer knowledge later. Teachers build relationships – even with the challenging students.

Likewise, knowledge of content is no guarantee that one can teach. Some experts can, but we’ve all had teachers who really knew their stuff but couldn’t get their point across. No offense to experts – it is difficult to unpack complex knowledge for novice learners. If you’ve ever asked why something works only to be told “It just does,” you understand what that means.

Teaching is complex. It certainly requires knowledge of content, but also knowledge of learning theory, human development, computers and the Internet, recognizing signs of child abuse, dealing with blood born pathogens, how to get 25 student down the hall safely and quietly, and a host of other things. And increasingly, in a world that seeks to undermine or delegitimize the profession, diplomacy.

It is true that teaching is the profession that makes all other professions possible. And it is harder than you think.


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