Posted by: Alexandre Borovik | June 13, 2011

Good teaching is subject-specific

Good teaching is subject-specific. Recepies which work in teaching chemestry or medecine, as a rule, do not work in mathematics, and vice versa.

The following quote I from Heinrich Neuhaus‘  The Art of Piano Playing  shows that this principle is well recognised in music education.

I merely stress that the theory of piano plying which deals with the hand and its physiology is distinct from the theory of music. (p. 86)


  1. This reminds me of my favorite comparison of (school) mathematics and PE. Mathematics at school level is often like restricting PE to cardio training (and calling it mathematics is like telling students they’re playing football while running laps).

    Sure, running is a big part of football, but it’s really not the same… A little honesty about that could go a long way — after all, you need stamina to play football just like training calculations is useful for doing mathematics.

  2. The academic discipline of “Education” (or Pedagogy), and particularly, the theorists of that discipline, require there to be something generic about the activity of teaching, or else their attempts to theorize about it would be in vain. The same problem arises in Management Studies, which asserts, contrary to all empirical evidence and human experience, that management is something generic, unrelated to the industry or marketing category in which is is applied. Stephen Toulmin, in his fine book “Cosmopolis”, argued that such generalization-seeking was a feature only of the modern western world, a feature not shared, for example, by europeans before about 1600, and not shared by other cultures elsewhere in the world.

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