Mentors

July 31, 1998

BOTH Bahram Behhradnia and Lewis Elton (THES, June 26) miss the point in their analysis of the relationship of rewards to performance in teaching.

Financial incentives are shallow and superficial means of motivating professionals (though the money may, indeed, be welcome). Commitment to good teaching will come from satisfaction gained from the act itself and from colleague approbation and support. Teachers must be trained to look for and find evidence of their success in teaching.

Change the designation of "great teacher" to "teacher mentor" and you anoint the recognised excellent teacher not only with a title, but with a responsibility for helping others. When colleagues approach for assistance, the mentor feels rewarded and his/her self-concept improves.

The practical impact is that the principles and practices of good teaching are more readily disseminated. Both of these gentlemen might take a look at my edited collection, Teaching Well and Liking It (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997).

James L. Bess Professor of higher education New York University

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