Michael, Oct 12
A desire to teach can be motivated by many factors; compassion, a desire to serve, to share, or to dispense knowledge, as well as to achieve status, power over others, a safe job, great holidays or good pay. All the reasons in this panoply of factors, may appear to go from positive to negative, however, in my view they are all the antithesis of the way a teacher should be motivated.
When teachers are “doing teaching” with these attitudes, they are attached to the students emotionally, not professionally. Students come to learn what they need to take them forward, not to connect emotionally with the teacher. Any connection that is emotional should come naturally as a consequence of the learning. Creating a learning environment is a teacher’s job; the only job.
In order to illustrate my point, I will share an anecdote from my student teacher internship: My supervisor, a master of cornering students on the truth, asked me, after a week of my teaching a Grade 4/5 class, how I was experiencing the work. I waxed enthusiastic, declaring how amazing it was, and satisfying, that I felt better and had more energy at the end of the day than I did at the beginning! Looking at me carefully he said, “So, you are a parasite?” Shocked and hurt, I replied,”Why did you say that?” He answered me with, Well, you are sucking the energy out of the students aren’t you? As he walked away, the epiphany occurred wherein I understood the message he had been drilling in to us all year: Give the students what they need, not what you want to give them. It’s not about you; it’s about the learning that is occurring.
Have some fun reflecting on that.
How is your learning environment?
How are you attached to the students?
How can you avoid attachment?
Next week – How do you know what the students need?
MORE THINKING ABOUT CURRICULUM
Various attempts to reform and streamline the education system through Standardized Testing have been around for a long time. Several Initiatives, such as “No Child Left Behind” in the USA and Foundation Skills Assessment (FSA) imposed on K-12 teachers in BC appear to be good in theory but, in reality, only pave the road to “hell” in the system with good intentions, as they breed the unhealthy competition among teachers and schools and encourage parents who can afford private tutors to seek better choices for their children.
As for the school where I am teaching, standardized tests have not produced either uniform student levels or better results in their learning. In fact, I think the new system has somewhat lowered the expectations for the students and I have observed that the quality of the students’ preparation has been getting worse and worse over the last 6 months.
The following videos and articles have more points of view.
In the following radio program, American teacher and writer, John Taylor Gatto, talks about the school system in the USA (1991). While the subject here is a little different, his criticism is still poignant:
“Schools and schooling are increasingly irrelevant…Schools don’t really teach anything except … how to obey orders. Schools are designed to be the instruments of scientific management of a mass population. Schools are intended to produce through an application of formulae human beings whose behavior could be predicted and controlled… The only successful people in our national order are independent, self-reliant, confident, and individualistic. Well-schooled people are irrelevant…As human beings they are useless to others and useless to themselves.
John Taylor Gatto: Part 1. On the Differences between Schooling and Education
In the featured video, Sulibreezy (Suli Breaks) seems to feel in a similar way:
Why I Hate School But Love Education||Spoken Word (Suli Breaks)
For yet another point of view, check out this blog: http://hoprea.wordpress.com/some-texts/
by Henrick Oprea, an ESL teacher from Brazil, telling a fascinating parable called “Saber-Tooth Curriculum” on the values of traditional education.
How about you?
- What are your views on the purposes of education?
- How do you see the role of English teachers, and in particular, the role of ESL teachers in preparing our students for their future?
- Do we just provide the training for specific skills or the education for the real world?
- Are we merely ESL instructors or educators who are raising young individuals by socializing them into our culture and helping them to learn to think for themselves?
- How can a Standardized Curriculum reflect the constantly changing demands for the skills and the values of higher order thinking?
Please send in your comments.