Teaching the teachers, and the rest of us

Frank Lyman remembered playing Uncle Wiggley with his 4-year old daughter many years ago, and watched her read the game cards, a moment he will never forget.

“We had no idea she could read,” he recalls. “She had the 45 [RPM] records and the little book that goes ding, and the page turns. She’d been following those pages for probably several months. We didn’t really know that she learned to read. So that’s how that particular principle came to me. But there is research in education that shows that children who see the words and hear the words at the same time can learn to read.”

And that’s just one of the epiphanies, as Lyman refers to them, that led him to write a collection of teaching methods called 100 Teaching Ideas That Transfer and Transform Learning. A career teacher of children, adults and other teachers, Lyman’s overarching theme is involving students in the process, bringing them in to teach themselves. You can easily extrapolate that theme to everyday situations in which we “teach” people about everything from their new job duties to managing a database to explaining cultural differences. As a major component of teaching, Lyman spends a lot of time examining writing and its importance to learning. For writers, the hardest part of the process is often starting, getting that first sentence down. One of his techniques is to get students to read a lot of first sentences of existing books and poetry, then write down the ones they like. This could lead to the students sitting down and writing their own first sentences, the beginnings of stories or poems. The writing’s the thing, maybe more so than the thinking and talking about it.

Frank Lyman’s ideas are for thinking teachers, and thus for those of us who act as teachers in many environments day to day. Hear my fascinating conversation with him in the episode of The Independent Author below:

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