What Was That Saying About Assumptions?

There is a saying about assumptions, but unfortunately the outcome is not very optimistic for either party involved.  In chapter 2 of The Skillful Teacher, Brookfield introduces four core assumptions that are mutually beneficial to both student and teacher. The assumptions involved a student focused teaching philosophy that can help a new or even seasoned teacher get through some of the difficult moments of teaching.

He summarizes the essentials of how to be successful in four assumptions. For student focused teaching, he recommends  a teacher should:

  • Do whatever helps the student learn
  • Be reflective in practice
  • Maintain a constant awareness of how students are experiencing learning and perceiving teachers actions
  • Teach college level students as adults

It’s a common theme in his book that there is no canned teaching method that you can open up and use for the entire class. It involves many methods and often you might have to use all of them in one class to help the students learn.

It’s understandable, using one or two techniques is much easier than the idea of planning a multitude of methods. So, Brookfield has compartmentalized the messy into the above four assumptions to help keep the new or even seasoned teacher on point with student focused teaching.

Awareness is another key component for success. Brookfield recommends teachers to be reflective in their practice, for that is where teaching growth can occur. It is also important to check the pulse of the classroom continuously. This can help you adjust the pace of the classroom if necessary.

The last key point is a reminder to treat adult students as adults. Respect plays a large part in this assumption. In fact, in a Faculty Focus article “What Students Want: Characteristics of Effective Teachers from the Students’ Perspective”, writer Ellen Smyth explains that of all the characteristics students want from their teachers, respect is number one. And who can blame them, as suggested in a humbling exercise, play a little imaginary roll reversal and you’ll see for yourself.


Brookfield, S. (2015). The skillful teacher: On trust, technique and responsiveness in the classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Smyth, E. (2011, Apr 11). What Students Want: Characteristics of Effective Teachers from the Students’ Perspective. Retrieved Feb 12, 2016, from Faculty Focus: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/philosophy-of-teaching/what-students-want-characteristics-of-effective-teachers-from-the-students-perspective/


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