Is teaching an Art or a Science?

A Universal Question: Is Teaching an Art, or Science?

Is teaching an art or a science?  Are we talking about teaching, meaning the act of standing in front of a group of students and expounding information? Or are we talking about the profession that we know today as education?  Are we referring to teaching as the simple instruction in which another acquires knowledge?  Let's look at these ideas and more.

According to our text, the answer to this debate “probably falls somewhere between the two poles” (Olivia, Gordon 2013 pg. 281)

The Scientific Approach 

I believe that education is a science.  In order to be an educator and a good educator, you need to know the formula for education. It takes knowledge of curriculum, behavior, philosophy, psychology and other areas to successfully become an educator.  Right? A scientist working in a lab (inside or outside) needs to consistently factor several variables and constants when doing experiments to successfully reach the desired outcomes.  In education, we call these outcomes “learning.” We want our students to learn.  We want our students to grow up and become active members of a society we hope to one day have.  This is why we have meetings to discuss curriculum, common code, standards, much more.  We meet with other educational scientists and debate the methods being used in school districts far and wide to judge our students against those throughout the world.  When we see that our students are not meeting the same rigors that other students are meeting, we up the experiment by providing standardized testing.  Some schools get the testing, and some schools don’t get the testing. This is called the “Scientific Method”… right?

But in all seriousness…

The ACT of teaching a student is an ART FORM.  This is something that isn’t for everyone.  I truly believe that “those can teach and those who can't administrate.” This is not to say that all administrators are not teachers. In this example, I am clearly using the term adminisTRATE.  I can give you hundreds of examples of amazing adminTERS who are warm and wonderful teachers.  They simply are teaching a larger classroom.  One with many grade levels and subject areas.

The ART of education and the ART of teaching is one that is being broken down by society today.  Gone are the days where a teacher can come up with his/her own lessons and whip a class into an excitement.  Today we have standards that are cross-curricular.  We can’t jump ahead because the 10 other teachers in our building or districts teaching the same thing are not moving at the same pace.  We are hindered by paper textbooks written 5-10 years ago with outdated facts and stories of “what the world might be like once the internet hits school buildings.”

The ability to look at a student (young or old) see where he/she is currently and bring some inspiration to them to learn something is an ART form.  One that not everyone has.  You have to be able to, even for a brief moment, look at a situation, understand it, and then come up with several ways to explain it for the individual student while at the same time, explaining it for dozens of individual students.  This is, in my view the difference between teaching public school and college courses.

Art and passion are alive and well in public school classrooms.  In the college systems (not all) teachers are not called teachers… they are called Professors, a term that takes some of the humanity and art out of education.  They stand in front of HUNDREDS of students and lecture to slide presentations provided to them by their departments.  This is science, not art.

The artistic teacher can, on a whim stop a lesson, and turn a classroom upside down to make a class laugh and not realize the learning process never stopped.  They can turn a parking lot of cars into a forest of trees that students can then begin to see individual trees through.

Is teaching an art or a science? I guess the answer really depends on who the instructor is… what the school system is like… and mostly, what course is being taught.

What do you think?


Olivia, Peter F., and William R. Gordon, III. Developing the Curriculum Student Value Edition. N.p.: Pearson College Div, 2013. Print.

About the author, Jeffrey Bradbury

Jeff Bradbury, creator of TeacherCast, and father of the famous @EduTriplets Thanks for checking out TeacherCast today. Please take a moment to find me on all of my Social Media channels!

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