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.


2nd Edition of The Art of Teaching Science Published

Today, I received a copy of the 2nd Edition of The Art of Teaching Science.  Mike Dias and I worked for the last year and a half on the revision, and we were very happy to receive a copy of the book.  


The 2nd Edition of The Art of Teaching Science was organized into four parts.  We geared the revision and organization of the text to align with science education programs situated in classrooms, rather than as isolated courses of study at the university.  Following the earlier versions, we emphasized the contextual dimension of learning to teach, and provided experiences throughout the book that would coincide with students experiences in schools with mentors, peers and students.  

For the 2nd Edition of the book, we developed an extensive Companion Website.  In truth, the Companion Site was developed to provide users of the book with resources that we were not able to include in the book because of the desire to shorten the manuscript.  


The Art of Teaching Science Companion website
The Art of Teaching Science Companion website

The Second Edition carried forward four pedagogical learning tools that are unique and fundamental to The Art of Teaching Science, and they are:

  • Inquiry Activities
  • Case Studies
  • Science Teacher Talk Interviews
  • Global Perspective

Inquiry Activities: We have included 33 Inquiry Activities that are embedded in the text, and are designed as way to bring social constructivism to the book.  The Inquiries are designed as collaborative activities, and can be used to engage learners in investigations, discussions, debates, observations, reports, and interactions on the key ideas developed in The Art of Teaching Science.  Here are a few examples of Inquiry Activities that you can read online to review this pedagogical learning tool.

    * Exploring Your Initial Ideas About Science Teaching

    * Designing a Science Tool Kit

    * Developing Science PCK

    * How Do Students Learn Science

Case Studies: In the Second Edition we refer to the case studies as “cases to consider,” and we use them to open each chapter.  In many ways the case can be used to enable readers to compare and contrast their pre-existing ideas about the content of the chapter.   We also have included additional cases on the Companion Website which can be located within each Chapter link in the Student Resources section.  You can read an example of “The Student Who Just Can’t Relate to This Physics Stuff.” 

Science Teacher Talk Interviews: These are “wisdom-of-practice” interviews that we conducted with three groups of 24 teachers.  The first group of six teachers was interviewed for the 1992 publication of Minds on Science, the second group, comprised of nine experienced teachers representing five countries, and three first-year teachers who were graduates of the TEEMS Program were interviewed for the First Edition of The Art of Teaching Science, and 6 additional teachers for the Second Edition.  We used a questionnaire which was developed for Minds on Science, and modified for the editions of The Art of Teaching Science.  The interviews are organized by chapter.  You can go to the Companion Site and read the interviews. Here is a link to the interviews for Chapter 1

Global Perspective:  Because of my involvement with the Global Thinking Project, which emerged from the AHP Soviet-Exchange Project discussed elsewhere in this website, I asked educators from several countries to write short essays describing science education in their respective countries.  For the Second Edition, you will find outstanding essays describing science education in:

·   Australia by Roger T. Cross

· Chile by Claudia Rose

· China by Ronald F. Price

· Ghana by Charles Hutchison

· Japan by Shigehiko Tsukahara

· Russia by Sergei Tolstikov

· Turkey by Fatih Tasasr

2nd Edition Art of Teaching Science to be Published in July 2008

Mike Dias and I have completed the revision of The Art of Teaching Science, 2nd Edition. We completed the manuscript, tables, figures and companion web material in early February, and the plan is for the book (see an image of the 2nd edition below) to be published in July, 2008 by Routledge Publishers.

One of the interesting aspects of the revision was there was no paper trail. All text, tables and figures were submitted online to our editors, and they returned revised documents online for our review. Green was the order of the day. If we had submitted “hard” copies of the manuscript we would have taken several trees (1300 pages of text).

For those of you who would like to order a copy of the book for review and as a possible text in your courses, you can request one here.

Art of Teaching Science

Revision of Art of Teaching Science

Sorry for the lapse in time since the last post. I’ve begun the process of revising the Art of Teaching Science. The second edition of the book will be published by Routledge Publishing of the Taylor & Francis Group. The book will not only be updated from the 2005 edition, but will have a new face as I’ve asked Dr. Michael Dias, Professor of Science Education at Kennesaw State University (Georgia) to be co-author with me on this revision. We hope to make all of the changes by January 2008, and see the book in print in July 2008.