Monday, November 22, 2021

The Seven Laws of Bad Teaching

In a recent faculty meeting we began our year-long review of Gregory's The Seven Laws of Teaching. I asked teachers in small groups to create a list that turned the seven laws around, as if they were offering advice to undermine a new teacher. Below are a few of those lists of the seven laws of teaching badly. 

1.       Don’t bother internalizing your material before teaching

2.       Stick to your lesson regardless of student attention

3.       Impress them with technical jargon

4.       Kids like surprises!

5.       Explain everything

6.       Keep moving

7.       Review takes too much time



1.       Wing each lesson—let it flow naturally

2.       Teach to those who are listening—others just miss out

3.       Use confusing academic language—make the students work harder

4.       Stick to unknowns—make them figure it out

5.       Lecture only—hopefully they can keep up

6.       Teach the facts—Regurgitation works

7.       Don’t review—it’s a waste of time, children are sponges


1.       Just wing it. It doesn’t matter if you know the lesson

2.       Start on time no matter what the students are doing, just keep talking

3.       Use challenging words to grow students’ vocabulary. Hope they understand

4.       Don’t check for prior knowledge, just begin teaching. Novelty is flashy.

5.       Do everything for your students and fill the vessel. Don’t make them work. Talk continuously.

6.       Just get your students to say the right answer. Understanding doesn’t matter.

7.       Don’t revisit past learning. Just keep going on to something new. 

A sample from one of the groups: 

An Introduction to the Progymnasmata

 The link below is to a document (31 pages) which introduces the progymnasmata exercises to teachers in a brief, easily adapted format. 

It's not meant as an exhaustive treatment of the progymnasmata. Each exercise is briefly explained and an outline for working through the parts of the exercise is provided. 

An Introduction to the Progymnasmata: