It’s Not About the Bike

“It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life”.
This is the title of the autobiography of the now infamous Lance Armstrong. The title implies that you do not win the Tour de France just through having the most advanced bike technology, you do so through human factors – having peak physical and mental strength. Of course he forgot to mention the drugs. 
I continually emphasize that in education you do not achieve results solely though good technology, you do so through having the best teaching methods. You also have to pay attention to the human factor. Good education requires good teachers who are dedicated to their profession and continually seeking to improve. This is something for which there are no performance-enhancing drugs.
So what makes a good teacher? Are good teachers born or are they created? Unfortunately, there are no clear answers to these questions. Ironically, an interesting talk on what makes a good teacher, which cites some of the available data, comes from one of the biggest proponents of technology based-approaches: Bill Gates:

Although science does not yet tell us conclusively what makes for good and bad teachers, a number of theories exist relating to this question. Theories relating to good teachers often focus on personal qualities, e.g. their ability to express concern for their students. One relevant theory was made prominent by Donald Schön in “The Reflective Practitioner”. Reflective practice is “the capacity to reflect on action so as to engage in a process of continuous learning”. Although this is applicable to all professions, it can certainly be argued to be one of the important qualities of a good teacher.