Two professors write successful book on teaching methods

By Samantha Adams

Two Union professors wrote a book on transformational teaching methods that has appealed not only to its targeted audience — preschool through high school teachers — but also to professional university staff.

Dr. Ralph Leverett, professor of special education and director of the master of education degree program, and Dr. Tom Rosebrough, executive dean of the college of education and human studies and professor of education, traveled to the Barnes & Noble book store in Hendersonville, Tenn., March 3, to sign copies of their new book, “Transformational Teaching in the Informational Age: Making Why and How We Teach Relevant to Students.”

“There seems to be burgeoning interest in the book in middle Tennessee,” Rosebrough said. “Though originally written to target preschool through 12th-grade educators, the philosophical content is attracting interest in universities as well. The Sumner County School System ordered books for its professional staff, and students at Union’s Hendersonville campus expressed interest in it.”

The book encourages teachers to focus on appreciating the individuality of students, viewing them as learners, instead of focusing more on giving them content to learn for tests.

“The book was prompted because we had seen a trend in the opposite direction. We would hope to see a return to student-centered learning and learning for practical application of facts, concepts and ‘life issues,’” Leverett said.

Leverett said that for 15 to 20 years he and Rosebrough have been concerned that public schools are not teaching the ability to think critically. Their book offers a solution to that problem.

To achieve such a goal, they present in the book a model teacher as one who is not simply an administrator, but also “a scholar, practitioner and relater,” Leverett said.

Rosebrough said, “The book makes the strong point that we do not have to choose between students and content, as though they are mutually exclusive. By placing students in the center of our model, the Transformational Pedagogy Model, we meet academic, social and spiritual goals.”

The book first proposes the teaching model and then offers more than 75 pages of practical steps to take to set the ideas in motion.

Encouraging learning through six elements of change natural to the human brain — challenge, novelty, meaning, emotion, feedback and repetition — is an effective tactic for teachers, Rosebrough said.

“Benefits of student-centered education are teachers who demand more from their students, immersion in pedagogy that allows learners to make choices in their learning, coupling of social and spiritual support of students as they are challenged academically, more student-directed learning, and more emphasis on learning than teaching,” Rosebrough said.

Other chapters, such as “Know How Students Learn” and “Teach by Asking Questions,” also explain practical approaches to applying the philosophy of student-centered education.

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