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about us / history / The Genesis of the Spectrum as told by Muska...

The Genesis of the Spectrum as told by Muska

"At the time the ideas of the Spectrum came about, I was teaching at Rutgers University presenting my students with ideas, notions, techniques, and experiences in teaching. One day a student approached me and said: 'I want to talk to you about the things you are teaching us.' 'Certainly,' I replied. 'What is it?' After a slight pause, the student uttered, 'I can't be you!' 'Thank you,' I responded—and began to walk away. 'Furthermore,' the student said, 'I don't want to be like you.'

I was quite stunned. I was upset. It took me some time to recover, but that statement kept gnawing at me. Is that what I was doing to my students? Did I impose my ideas on them? Did I demand replication of 'me'? It was, indeed, a moment of revelation. I realized that my experiences, my idiosyncrasies were mine—solely mine. I realized that they were only a part of the story of teaching. But, what is the other part? Or perhaps other parts? I kept asking myself…what is the body of knowledge about teaching that is beyond my idiosyncratic behavior? Is there such a possibility? Is it possible to identify a framework, a model, a theory that will embrace the options that exist in teaching, or a framework that might embrace future options?

It became clear to me that arbitrary teaching, scattered notions, fragmented ideas, and isolated techniques—successful as they might be—do not constitute a cohesive framework that can serve as a broad, integrated guide for teaching future teachers. The search for a universal structure of teaching had begun.

It has been a search for a unified theory that will show and explain the relationship between deliberate teaching behavior and learning behavior, a theory that will identify with consistency the structure of the options in teaching and learning behavior. The search was for a single, unifying principle that governs all teaching. Hence the identification of the axiom: Teaching behavior is a chain of decision making." (Mosston & Ashworth, 1994, pp. vii–viii).

This initial event is more than an incidental story; it chronicles the reason for Muska's cognitive dissonance and emotional unrest to solve what he realized was a professional obstacle. "What is teaching independent of my personal idiosyncrasies? Is there only one teaching approach? And if there is more than one, how does one differ from another?"

The search to answer these initial questions led to an exhaustive international review of literature from unrelated fields. His investigative journey eventually led to the discovery of the three factors that serve as the foundation from which the Spectrum framework was created.