Over the holidays, I watched the 12 part video lecture series by Neil deGrasse Tyson called “my favorite universe”. Not only is this a fascinating topic anyhow, but the astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium brings it to life. As one commenter put it:
They need to clone Tyson and put him in every class room across the planet. I bet the world would be a better place for it…
What thrilled me was the enthusiasm that Tyson radiated, the love for his subject discipline and the love for telling people about it. Now here’s a good teacher if ever I saw one. What’s even more striking is that he used no technology in his presentations, apart from a few still images illustrating parts of the cosmos. Now this made me wonder, because all the emphasis on being a good teacher that I know and hear about lies on the competent use of technology! Institutions invest zillions of currency into putting a projector and smartboards into every classroom, as well as staff development programmes training people how to use powerpoint or upload a file into the VLE. Who, nowadays, would dare go to a conference without a USB stick with the obligatory presentation on?
Technology surely has its place, especially for reaching out. I would not ever have been able to watch this great series if it were not for youtube, cloud computing, ubiquitous Internet access, and the good man filming and sharing his lectures. But let’s face it, good teaching does not come from technology, it comes from the teacher, presenter, or expert and we need to invest in it!