On a counsel of despair
Sean has done me the honour of a point-by-point rebuttal of some earlier points of mine; do read the linked post. He makes some very good points, and I don't think it's a good idea to get into an old-fashioned argument about them, but better to set them out before you and encourage anyone out there to respond to either or both of us.
Having said that :-)
- My view of the both theoretical and practical impossibility of a universal model/template/method for teaching is not a counsel of despair; it's an invitation to relish a dance... Yes, I know it is task-focused and chemical engineering is hard (in several senses), but the dance is still there in the engagement and response with students' understanding (or failure to understand), and accumulating a body of practice wisdom about how to engage with both of those conditions. As Sean refers to his engineering expertise, I venture to suggest that it is not merely that teaching (and its admittedly patchy theory) does not live up to his positivist and pragmatic paradigm--but nor does his engineering practice, either (or that of any other expert).
- And "2. Why do values and feelings matter in the context of engineering education?" You go with the "engineering is value-free" line here. I do not disagree, but the point relates to the human encounter which is critical to teaching and learning, rather than the subject matter. Learning always involves feelings; boredom, fascination, frustration, achievement... and many more. They are not the prerogative of soft, humanistic topics. "I just can't get my head around these equations!" is an expression of feelings, and how a teahcer engages with it--ridicule failure and humiliate to motivate, or take the problem seriously and explore where the blockages are--are expressions of values in teaching. And so is the cost-benefit analysis a teacher engages in when deciding how much time to spend on helping an obtuse student versus getting through the syllabus. Values are not something we impose on our practice; they are implicit in it whether we acknowledge them or not.