February 20, 2010
General Teaching Musings
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the midst of cursing out my math excel chart, I heard two education majors cursing out the teaching profession. (God, help them and do everything with your Mercy and ease. Aameen.) That got me thinking and here is my next pseudo philosophical rambling:
Why should teachers *care* about teaching?
I always noticed that teachers who never cared about teaching their subjects or cared about being in the classroom at all, I never really learned that much from them. Even if a teacher can be good at explaining things, if the teacher doesn’t really care, that apathy can easily transfer to the student.
Perfect case: my high school chemistry teacher. (Spiderman: oh hell no.) She was excellent at explaining different concepts and was very clear on many of the mathy parts of chemistry, but everyone–the students, other teachers, the administration–knew that once class was done, she wanted to get out. She just saw it as teaching us enough chemistry needed to pass high school or the AP exam and after that, she was done. (teacher: after the AP exam, I don’t care to see you in my class.)
What ended up happening? Virtually everyone in my high school class forgot chemistry and in college, they just take it for their major(s) requirement and they get the hell out of class. And I don’t blame them. Now in college when I talk to my chemistry professor about chemistry, he thinks I am very ‘dogmatic’ and thinking too much as the textbook. But is that a result of my studying or how I was taught chemistry to be in high school?
On the flip side, I had an English teacher in high school that took me out of thinking that books are meant to be read to answer standardized test questions to seeing them talk and question different elements of life. When I entered college into an English class, my professor was surprised that I can see books as multi dimensional “criticisms” of life and society.
Both teachers were brilliant at explaining things. Both gave tests that challenged my brain and made me think, but one didn’t care about what she was teaching while the other one did. I read in my education class that approximately 70% of a student’s learning comes *directly from the teacher*. Yes, you heard me/read this right. *Directly from the teacher*. Not the text book, tests or worksheets. So how a teacher teaches something, talks to the class and overall interaction with the subject and the students have a profound effect on what students learn at that moment and what students end up retaining and learning later on in life. As dorky as it sounds, teachers have influences on students in more ways than a person can imagine. Some of them a person may be consciously aware of and others might be unconsciously affecting a person’s life. Like I didn’t realize until this morning that calculus isn’t just in my textbook. I am slowly starting to see it influence my perspective on things.
Anyway, point of the post:
Teachers out there if you are reading this (which is kind of scary) and people reading this who aren’t afraid to call out their teachers: Teachers, you need to care about teaching. Kids WILL notice if you don’t care and they in turn won’t care and worse–they might not learn as much as they could have if only you cared. I am not saying to jump up and down and say, ‘history is cool’ or something. Just saying how something can mean something in someone’s life or how learning something can help someone develop their mind can be enough. Or if you don’t want to be direct, then at least teach something like it matters. I am not asking for a miracle, I am just asking for a little less apathy in the classroom–be it in a public school, private school, college, Montessori, home schooling–whatever.
Okay, I’m out.