Book Discussion

The One Minute Teacher: How to Teach Others to Teach Themselves

By Spencer Johnson & Constance Johnson [New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1986], 112 pages

ISBN: 0-688-08249-1


The One Minute Teaching Technique’

By Victor E. Dike

The authors of The One Minute Teacher, Dr. Spencer Johnson and Constance Johnson, adopted the hands-on management approach used by Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson in The One Minute Manager to better teach the teachers to teach their students. The teaching techniques adopted in the book are suitable for teachers and students in the adult learning environment. The role playing technique helps students to learn because many adult learners learn better in role-playing settings. It helps the teachers to get excited teaching and getting students excited about learning. Also, it helps schoolteachers to ‘successfully meet’ their ‘responsibilities of preparing’ their students for the complex world and the ‘challenges of tomorrow.’ When one learns to solve problems and becomes a productive member of society he or she would move from dependency to self-direction and self-actualization, which sits at the top of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and can be attained when lower needs are realized.

My experience in adult classroom (as a college instructor) shows that adult learners prefer the participatory or pro-active and hands-on approach (as opposed to the traditional teacher-dominated class instruction). To facilitate their rate of learning and understanding and their academic progress the teacher has to provide room for students to exchange ideas and learn from one another. This provides an opportunity for them to learn from the experiences of others what they can apply on their jobs the next day. Also the teacher has to clarify students expectations and employ a variety of teaching methods or strategies (as seen from the varied parables used in this book) to benefit the varied students with varied learning style. More importantly, the instructor should provide positive reinforcement with direct and good suggestions for improvement.

One of the objectives of The One Minute Teacher is to create a cooperative learning environment as it teaches the teacher to teach students the disciplines of learning, using the three business ‘One Minute’ principles of Setting One Minute Goals, Giving One Minute Praisings, and Using One Minute Recoveries. It also uses sequential and varieties of activities to achieve teaching and learning objectives. It employs positive reinforce-ment and humor because everybody feels good and learns better when are appreciated. The three simple methods prepare both teachers and their students.

The authors demonstrated insight and understanding in describing teacher/student relationship. And clearly show more effective ways for teachers and students to get along, as they rightly notes that it is only when a teacher is enthusiastic about his or her life that he or she could teach effectively. In addition, students are at their BEST when they teach themselves what they ‘Need To Learn’ with the techniques. The One Minute Teacher teaches goal-setting, responsibility and discipline, overcoming fears of the unknown, and having positive attitude or believing in yourself. It also fosters students’ respect for diversity and group communications, self-motivation, and good sense of accomplishment, positive reinforcement and positive self-image. The technique fosters in the teacher self-esteem, development, and good sense of accomplishment, as he/she effectively and positively changes students’ behavior. Everyone feels good and happy ‘when you accomplish’ your set goal. However, failing to accomplish a set goal should not be perceived as a failure, but as a learning experience, which would help one to accomplish the set goal.

The book is unique in that it takes away the frustration in teaching; in other words, it makes it interesting. The book is superb both in theory and in practice in the way its human relation ideas are presented. In fact, the feeling created by the book is infectious – a good feeling that goes from one teacher to the other. The combination of business skill and knowledge and teaching experience helped the authors to beautifully put together The One Minute Teacher. This book is simple, creative, and easy-to-read and is sprinkled with lots of easy-to-use and real life anecdotes and metaphors. It is, therefore, a must read for students, teachers, school administrators, business managers, and parents, as it would help students to interact with others, and to learn and do well in school.