A New Metaphor for Teaching

A New Metaphor for Teaching
A New Metaphor for Teaching
Even though metaphors for teaching abound, there's always room for another, and Kim Paffenroth presents a novel one—Glinda, the Good Witch of the North in The Wizard of Oz. He starts by ruling out the other characters in this much-loved tale. Dorothy is the student along with peer learners Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the Lion. They encounter the Wicked Witch of the West who's good at discipline, giving orders, and enforcing them. Paffenroth notes that those characteristics can be seen in some teachers, and they're not inherently wicked, but they're not what make master teachers.

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Even though metaphors for teaching abound, there's always room for another, and Kim Paffenroth presents a novel one—Glinda, the Good Witch of the North in The Wizard of Oz. He starts by ruling out the other characters in this much-loved tale. Dorothy is the student along with peer learners Scarecrow, Tin Man, and the Lion. They encounter the Wicked Witch of the West who's good at discipline, giving orders, and enforcing them. Paffenroth notes that those characteristics can be seen in some teachers, and they're not inherently wicked, but they're not what make master teachers. The three students also encounter the great Oz, who is loud and authoritatively impressive—a “sage on the stage,” according to Paffenroth. “But mere authority and outrageous spectacle simultaneously close off some avenues of communication and learning; they may be good for emboldening or brow-beating, but are not as good for introspection and enlightenment” (p. 259). That leaves Glinda, “the goody-two-shoes who is barely in the movie and who does not display any particularly strong magical powers” (p. 259). But Glinda responds to Dorothy in ways Paffenroth believes illustrate the characteristics of master teachers: This is a different view of teaching and a bit unconventional, but still worthy of our consideration. Teaching is a complex act that veers out in multiple directions. It's good to let our thinking go to new places every now and then, and this piece is delightful to read and full of humor and intriguing comparisons. Reference: Paffenroth, Kim. (2017). The best teacher is like a famous mage everyone knows—just not any of your favorites. Teaching Theology and Religion, 20 (3), 257–262.