What I’ve Learned about Teaching and Learning

Gus Clark, Professor Emeritus,

McKay School of Education.

These statements were delivered January 27, 1994. Clark, who was selected by the students of the School of Education as Professor of the Month, presented a lecture as if it were his last lecture to be given at BYU.

I’ve learned The best teacher makes learning easy. Learning begins with perception and develops into concepts that can lead to the understanding of the whole universe. Math is a wonderful subject, not to be feared, and through its principles this world was probably created. In mathematics the understanding of WHY is just as important as the process of computation. Truth and light center in God. Without the inclusion of Him, there will still be shadows in our thinking. Half of the planning is done when a concept is stated conceptually. The best question always elicits the best answer. Having a sense of humor is a necessity in teaching; used wisely, it becomes an asset. Very few people come up with an original idea or concept, but if a person does discover something he should give it away quickly so that all may benefit. Only two things go with you into the next life—what you know and other people. Everything else here is secondary.

On Reading

Comments from a Reading Conference, Cedar City, UT, 1992

I’ve learned

[Having been a college professor for 37 years, I’ve learned that] teachers need to go back to the classroom occasionally. Being in the trenches is a different matter. Children get more out of a reading assignment when the teacher precedes the lesson with background information and follows it with a discussion. Teachers must read what the child reads. There are four types of reading, and every teacher should be involved in every type in order to give children a well integrated reading program.

1. Developmental This is learning to read. I’ve learned that children get a better start if they are taught phonics. It helps them understand the relationships between letters and sounds and to “break the code” that links the words they hear with the words they see in print.

2. Functional Reading or Reading to Learn Students need to know how to read dictionaries, encyclopedias, all reference materials, and [all] parts of a book. They need to be taught how to read science, math, social studies and other academic books.

3. Recreational Reading Children improve their reading ability by reading a lot. Reading achievement is directly related to the amount of reading children do inside and outside of school. A teacher who knows the most books is able to help find the reading material that satisfies an individual child’s need.

4. Remedial Reading We are all teachers of remedial reading. All teachers should be skilled educators in remedial procedures and help ease the heavy burden of the resource room.

Each new horizon that is exposed to us comes to us as an individual, from within. Knowing the books and knowing the skills gives us the power to enrich and motivate children. But knowing the child—his needs, his aspirations—empowers us to bring the learning and the child to one unity, and that is the purpose of a teacher. Parents are the most influential teachers. Teachers who successfully involve parents in their children’s schoolwork are successful because they work at it.

Alumni First Name
Welsford H. “Gus”
Alumni Last Name
Clark
Alumni Graduation Year
1956, 1962