This book was bought as a textbook for a course I was taking. I have since added it to my library. The following is from a book review I turned in for class.
In Called to Teach: An Introduction to the Ministry of Teaching, William Yount has dealt with both the subject of teaching as well as the teacher. Broken into four parts, the author approaches the teacher as person, instructor, manager, and finally as minister. Though each part may be thought of personally, instructions on the various dynamics of teaching become clear as one reads on. Presented in this orderly fashion the subject matter is easy to follow and logically put together.
The first highlight to be brought out comes from the author’s treatment of decentration. Yount catches the attention of the reader by bringing the word “humanism” into the discussion. He states, “Godless, self-centered, evil, dangerous, pervasive—they (his students) often personify it as an enemy to be avoided, if not overthrown.” He goes on to point out that humanism is related to many actions which are not necessarily at war with a biblical worldview. The distinction can be understood by simply defining the terms. The author points to classical humanism as having its roots in the Reformation with a focus upon the Bible. He brings out the “feeling” portion of his teaching triad as humanistic in its approach, and defends humanism as it relates to personalizing the classroom and meeting the needs of people. While these ideals may
be thought of in humanistic terms, there is no compromise required for the Christian teacher to embrace and even incorporate them in teaching methods. Congratulations to Yount as he clearly is not supportive of a “...philosophy centered in man and generally opposed to religion and the supernatural.” The mature thinking teacher provides a definition of terms based upon more than a single narrow definition, experience, or perspective.
Another point worthy of note is Yount’s thoughts on direct reinforcement. In less than a single page, the author concisely points out the short-comings of this once popular approach. Perhaps the reader educated in the late 1960’s through the early 1970’s will be familiar with the techniques employed through the use of the direct reinforcement model—having been a product of this method. The author’s analysis is spot-on; however, Yount makes an exception for teacher praise as the one redeeming quality of direct reinforcement. Indeed, behavior and learning of classmates of the one receiving teacher praise may be positively affected. This method is certainly useful with the student who thrives on words of affirmation.
There may be nothing new in the concepts of the teacher as a communicator and motivator, but the idea that a teacher is a dramatic performer is one of the author’s memorable contributions to this discussion. Yount brings out the importance of what may be thought of as story-telling and practical examples. He calls these techniques “soapboxes” and uses them in every class he teaches. This method combined with the confidence of a well-prepared and current teacher on a mission cause a classroom synergy which support Yount’s idea of the teacher as “personal presence.”