The Artistry of Teaching

The artistry of teaching is a commitment to the idea that there is more to teaching than the application of principles of teaching that have emerged out of research and practice.

Eliot Eisner remarked that the artistry of teaching occurs in the interstices (space, opening, interface) between frameworks and actions (theory and practice).

The artistry of teaching is personal and specific to situations and classrooms, and is not necessarily the result of the application of theories.

Teaching is more immediate than reflective, and the artistry of teaching, much like creativity, comes to the prepared, sometimes serendipitously, more often as an invention or ingenious solution to an immediate problem.

Image by Theo

Image by Theo

But what is the artistry of teaching?  Is there an artistry of teaching?  Many of you will agree that teachers are closer to being orchestra conductors than a technicians.  Yet, in 2013, we are in the midst of a sweeping assault on teaching and the teaching profession by people who focus on test scores, efficiency, cost benefit analysis, achievement, and common standards.

Over the next two months, I am going to explore the artistry of teaching from both personal experiences, and collaboration I have had with hundreds of teachers and researchers, as well as the literature related to teaching.

The artistry of teaching is the underlying theme of two books, Minds on Science and The Art of Teaching Science, as well as this blog which has focused on progressive teaching, science education policy, educational reform, and the philosophy of teaching.  Much of the content of the blog posts will come from these books and this blog.

The plan is to publish a series of separate posts linked by the topic, The Artistry of Teaching.  There will be about ten posts, which will be published once each week, and then assembled as an eBook available on this blog for free.  I’ve outlined the theme for each post, and the Wordle shown in Figure 1 was made from the key ideas in my initial thinking.


Figure 1. Wordle of ideas that will be explored in the blog series, Artistry in Teaching.

Figure 1. Wordle of ideas that will be explored in the blog series, Artistry of Teaching.

On a personal note, for more than 30 years I have written about science teaching from a progressive philosophy.  In 1992 HarperCollins published the first edition of Minds on Science,  a book about teaching science. I had initially intended the book to be subtitled “The art of teaching science,” but that never happened because of a missed communication with the publisher.

In 2001,  I submitted a book manuscript based on Minds on Science to the eduction editor at Oxford University Press.  The book manuscript was titled The Art of Teaching Science, and under the editorial leadership of Maura Roessner at Oxford, the book was published in 2005.  When The Art of Teaching Science was published, I started the Art of Teaching Science Blog.

In 2008, Dr. Michael Dias, Professor of Biology at Kennesaw State University (Georgia) joined me in writing the second edition of The Art of Science Teaching. We  published the second edition of the Art of Teaching with Routledge Publishers.

The series of blog posts on the artistry of teaching will begin during the last week of July, and will run into September.  Look for a free eBook based on the series of blog posts sometime in early October.

In the meantime, I hope you will be on the look out for blog post #1 on the artistry of teaching.


About Jack Hassard

Jack Hassard is a writer, a former high school teacher, and Professor Emeritus of Science Education, Georgia State University.