"The Elements of Teaching" by James M. Banner

The Elements of Teaching James M. Banner, Harold C. Cannon

Publication date:
11 Mar 1999
Yale University Press
160 pages: 210 x 140mm
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What are the characteristics of a great teacher? What qualities of mind and spirit are necessary to help others acquire the knowledge through which they can understand and live a good life? In this book, James Banner and Harold Cannon draw on many years of experience to set forth the intellectual, moral, and emotional capacities that they believe the best teachers must possess. Their book is an inspiring guide to current and future school teachers and to college and university professors—indeed to everyone who teaches anything to anyone else.

Arguing that teaching is an art, Banner and Cannon help teachers understand its components. They analyze the specific qualities of successful teachers and the ways in which these qualities promote learning and understanding. Throughout, they illustrate their discussion with sharply etched portraits of fictional teachers who exemplify—or fail to exemplify—a particular quality. Neither a how-to book nor a consideration of the philosophy, methods, or activities of teaching, this book, more precisely, assesses what it takes to teach. It encourages teachers to consider how they might strengthen their own level of professional performance.

James M. Banner, Jr., is an independent scholar, writer, teacher, association director, and book publisher. Harold C. Cannon, now retired, was division director at the National Endowment for the Humanities.

"James M. Banner Jr. and Harold M. Cannon not only define teaching's essential ingredients; they also make the stunningly old-fashioned suggestion that good teaching lies at the heart of good learning. . . . Should be required reading—particularly for our brightest young people who rarely give the profession a second thought. By reminding us of all that teaching can be, The Elements of Teaching exhorts us to bridge the gap between the ideal and the real."—Patricia Kean, Washington Post Education Review

"The book, which, although deeply theoretical in one sense, also includes numerous illustrative stories about school life. There are not many books like this around these days."—Times Educational Supplement

"This valentine to dedicated teachers should be required reading—particularly for our brightest young people who rarely give the profession a second thought."—Patricia Kean, Washington Post Education Review

"Teaching as an art is given much-needed attention in this guided tour through its intricacies by two experienced and empathetic cicerones."—Publisher's Weekly

"An elegantly written, thoughtful book on a most important and much neglected subject. In this moral essay, the authors have not only written brilliantly about the practice of teaching, they have also captured the beauty of it."—Roger Rosenblatt

"In The Elements of Teaching, Banner and Cannon gently remind the reader that teaching is far more than a technical skill; rather, it is an art that requires learning, character, and imagination. This charming and insightful book will benefit all those who would teach, whether they work in the home or the classroom."—Diane Ravitch

"This refreshing, concise volume, full of basic wisdom about the art of teaching, will revitalize and focus the critical debate about how to prepare the next generation of teachers and support those now in America's classrooms. Beautiful ideas about teaching and learning come alive in the stories of real teachers who demonstrate the powerful impact of exemplary practice."—Thomas W. Payzant

"I came to the conclusion that this was exactly what I, as a veteran teacher, needed to read after my last year with a very difficult class. It reminded me why I became a teacher, what I liked about teaching, and who I am as a teacher....I think it will appeal to anyone/everyone who has an interest in teaching. I would also keep copies on hand to give as gifts to my student teachers with a note: 'Read at least once every two years to keep the life you have chosen in perspective.' If I were teaching an education course I would have no problem assigning this book along with the likes of Richard Hawley's book The Headmaster's Papers as realistic observations on teaching."—Christine Beacham

"Everyone cares about good teaching, but most of us have trouble describing what we really mean by the phrase. James M. Banner, Jr., and Harold Cannon do it for us, wisely and eloquently. This book will bring back fond memories of good teachers and provide deep insights about what made them so good."—Albert Shanker

"The Elements of Teaching is a true classic. Its inspiring message of hope and professionalism is needed now more than ever. Every teacher and parent should read this lovely book."—Diane Ravitch