10 Ways to Spot the Difference Between Pseudoteaching and Real Teaching

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Daniel Coyle presents 10 ways to spot the difference between pseudoteaching and real teaching:

  1. Pseudoteaching delivers long, entertaining, inspiring lectures; Real teaching designs short, intensive, learner-driven sessions
  2. Pseudoteaching is eloquent and expansive; Real teaching is concise and focused
  3. Pseudoteaching addresses large groups; Real teaching connects to individuals
  4. Pseudoteaching doesn’t focus on small details; Real teaching is all about details
  5. Pseudoteaching is about talking more than watching or listening; Real teaching is about listening and watching more than talking
  6. Pseudoteaching is loudly charismatic; Real teaching is quietly magnetic
  7. Pseudoteaching is Robin Williams leaping atop desks in Dead Poets Society; Real teaching is John Wooden, teaching his basketball players how to put on their socks properly (no wrinkles, because that causes blisters)
  8. Pseudoteaching dismisses questions; Real teaching craves them
  9. Pseudoteaching treats everyone the same; Real teaching tailors the message for each learner
  10. Pseudoteaching delivers the exact same lecture over and over; Real teaching customizes each session for its audience


  1. Marc Pisco says:

    In a word, pseudoteaching is TED.

  2. Stevie the K says:

    Marc Pisco you beat me to it!

  3. Toddy Cat says:

    There’s an element of truth to this, and also a distinct whiff of BS. I had some pretty darned good teachers back when I was in college who were “pseudoteachers” according to this joker. I’d like to offer an alternative definition; real teachers are those teachers who effectively teach their students real, valuable stuff. Pseudoteachers either fail to teach, or teach nonsense. How exactly the teaching is done is very individuated, and also pretty much immaterial.

  4. Aretae says:

    Hard to disagree. Though I frame things differently. Essential claim: Lecture sucks.

  5. Candide III says:

    Isn’t this one of those entertaining, loudly charismatic posts not focusing on small details? He-he.

    Toddy Cat: I agree, same experience. Not every pro is good as a lecturer. We had very good mathematicians giving excellent lectures and other very good mathematicians whose lectures were impossible to listen to. Coordination between the lecturer and the TAs teaching the seminars/practical lessons is also very important.

  6. Robb Seaton says:

    11. Pseudoteaching is setting up false dichotomies for literary effect.

    More seriously, real teaching is designing your tests to encourage long term retention.

  7. Al Fin says:

    A pseudo-teacher is often rated very highly by students. Inspiration is good, grade-inflation also helps.

    Coddle those adolescents and young adults! How else can they make it through life?

    Spoon-feed them their gruel for ready regurgitation. Praise them for their ability to reflect their professors’ viewpoints.

    A society decaying to the point of easy takeover. Yes, you too can be king. Of a slobbering idiocracy.

  8. Grasspunk says:

    It’s an odd blog. In one post he started a big discussion about the type of supportive parent you should be and how to listen to the coach and work together. Everyone piled on in the comments.

    The odd thing was he’d just posted about the success of Mikaela Shiffrin who is an amazing example of parents ignoring coaches’ requests and doing what they think is best for Mikaela.

    So Shiffrin’s parents were great for constantly going against coaches’ wishes, but then all you other parents should listen to your coaches and support them.

    What I like about his blog is he brings the learning experience out of its context, showing that you don’t need fancy equipment. It is all about the process.

  9. If real teaching tailors itself to each student, what happens if the student learns best with “pseudo-teaching”?

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