Assumptions of Skillful Teaching

Brookfield (2006, pg. 17) suggests three assumptions of what skillful teaching is:

  1. Doing whatever helps students learn;
  2. Adopting a critically reflective stance towards teaching practice;
  3. Being constantly aware of how students are experiencing their learning and perceiving teachers’ actions.

The first assumption is a bit troublesome to me. Students could learn by memorizing facts and following routine sets of instructions. Sure they are learning, but is it actually useful to them? If we are going to do whatever helps students learn it should align with the learning objectives of the course and the appropriate level of Bloom’s taxonomy.

In regards to the second assumption, Brookfield (2006, pg. 25) believes that skillful teaching is informed and to ensure this, critical reflection is a must. Critical reflection is an area of challenge for myself. Brookfield (2006, pg. 26) says that critical reflection involves looking through the eyes of our students and colleagues, reading educational literature, and reviewing our personal autobiographies. I find this a very useful method since we are viewing our teaching from all angles. I tend to view my teaching through the eyes of my students and my own experiences, but not necessarily through my colleagues’ eyes and I definitely don’t study any literature in regards to my teaching outside of the PIDP. This is something I will need to work on.

The third assumption appears to always be the case, but when I think about it more carefully, I realize that I am aware of how my students are experience my teaching, however I am not actually collecting any data outside of end of course evaluations. I am hesitant to give students the opportunity to vent about the course halfway through or even on a weekly basis, but perhaps I need to suck it up and try at least a halfway evaluation that I would create myself.


Brookfield, S. D. (2006). The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom (Second ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


About simoncrothers

I am an Australian who moved to British Columbia, Canada with my family in 1998. After completing my undergraduate degree in mathematics and computing science at Simon Fraser University, I moved back to Australia for several years. During this time I completed a Masters in Computational Mathematics and began my teaching career in mathematics at the University of New South Wales. In 2010, I moved back to Canada and taught computer science at Douglas College for three years. I am currently regular faculty in the Computer Business Systems department at KPU. I have also taught some courses in the Business and Quantitative Methods department at KPU. In my spare time I like to spend time with my wife Jami, who I met in Australia, our three year old daughter Lillian, and our newly born son Aiden. I also like to indulge in the occasional video game and I am involved in various self-employed web development projects.
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