Brookfield’s Skillful Teacher – Chapter 2: The Core Assumptions of Skillful Teaching

Here are my comments and discussion on Chapter 2 from Brookfield’s Skillful Teacher (2015).

Assumption #1: Skillful Teaching Is Whatever Helps Students Learn

In the first core assumption, Brookfield (2015) states that this may look basic and trivial at first glance. Brookfield points out that there is a huge diversity of students in the classroom. One teaching method may work for some students while the same teaching method may be confusing and difficult to understand for another group of students. Each instructor comes with a set of personal experiences, habits, biases, and ideas that can prevent the instructor to improve or modify the teachings for other students who learn differently (Brookfield, 2015). The goal is to change the lesson delivery that can cater to other student learning styles.

When I was reading about Brookfield’s experience of leaving the classroom, I thought that this is a daring way to reach out to angry, hostile students (Brookfield, 2015). I can see this can help to break the tension in the classroom. Brookfield (2015) suggest bringing in a panel of alumni to discuss about the class with the teacher out of the classroom. This approach is very valuable as peer to peer approach can be very effective. Alumni can address the anger and hostile in the current students of the classroom.

Assumption #2 Skillful Teachers Adopt a Critically Reflective Stance Toward Their Practice

In this core assumption, Brookfield (2015) states that teachers need to identify and research into their own assumptions. The goal is to foster learning in students. Teachers need to check their assumptions by evaluating them through the lenses of students’ eyes, colleagues’ perceptions, literature, and our autobiography (Brookfield, 2015). Basically, teachers must demonstrate critical reflection to the students. Students can learn from the instructor how to critically reflective in the course and in life.

Assumption #3 Teachers Need a Constant Awareness of How Students Are Experiencing Their Learning and Perceiving Teachers’ Actions

According to Brookfield (2015), teachers need to get insights into what students are thinking in the classroom. The best way is getting feedback from students. Students’ responses must be anonymous in any feedback questionnaire. The goal is to decrease any misunderstandings in the classroom.

Assumption #4 College Students of Any Age Should Be Treated as Adults

Brookfield’s fourth core assumption is treating the students who are into their adulthood or on the verge of adulthood like adults (Brookfield, 2015). This is important because no one likes to be talked down or treated like a child. Teachers need to be treating their students with respect. On the other hand, students expect their teachers to know what they are doing. Teachers need to be honest and transparent. No one likes to be keep out of the loop. I think this is important as teachers can earn the students’ respect when the teachers are acting as a responsible mentor who have the best intentions for the students in achieving learning outcomes.


Overall, I agree with these four core assumptions from Brookfield. I find that these core assumptions are valuable advice for new instructors like myself. I can be a better instructor for the students by being aware of Brookfield’s core assumptions to being a skillful teacher in the classroom.


Brookfield, S. D. (2015). The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in The Classroom. John Wiley & Sons. P15-26.


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