Oral Tradition: The Perpetual Fuel of the GTM
The Most Important Aspect of Conducting a Seminar
There is nothing in writing other than this document which you are reading now. Everything is passed on by oral tradition in order to prevent the development of any form of true-believership or fixed procedure which might come to be followed to the letter and of which the educational profession would soon tire. The many annual Great Teachers Seminars throughout North America exist and persist only because of the initiative and selfless ambition of people who want to share the experience with teachers in their own geographic area.
As David Gottshall references in his original 1993 History of the Great Teachers Movement document, this paragraph is the single most important one of which he writes. Faculty assembling in person, in the present, face to face, and engaged in meaningful, relevant dialogue about teaching methodology is the epicenter of any GTS. It really is that simple. No really... The entire seminar process of any seminar ranging from 4 hours to 5 days in length is designed to specifically facilitate this environment.
In fact we do what we want our students to do: engage in meaningful dialogue with our peers. It's that human interaction and energy, collectively tapped and savored in our learning spaces, that becomes the fuel for our classes.
As the Great Teachers model for professional learning so aptly demonstrates, the intentional decisions by seminar leadership to step back and allow the seminar to become what it's supposed to be is the quintessential, core fuel of a true spirited GTS. The noted absence of 'how to' manuals keeps it fresh and sustainable as David suggests.
While technology in higher education continues to evolve as our cultural need to connect virtually expands, nothing can replace the cosmic nature of human connections.
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