February 20, 2010

General Teaching Musings

Posted in Teaching/Education at 12:44 pm by faith786

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Assalamu Alaikum,

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.



  1. ionnes said,

    Apathy is the number one feeling of most of my parents (Baby Boomers and ex Hippies) and the attitude of the administrators of most Universities. Not only do they not care that you are not being taught by the highest quality people; most likely they are happy because those people cost the school less to employ. They don’t give enough of a crap to complain to bosses about the lack of funding or support for their curriculum.

    We need more young people, who still see love in the world, to show students the possibilities that exist if you believe you can achieve them.

  2. faith786 said,

    I agree that we need more people who still see love in the world, but I am not throwing anyone who is ‘old’ under the bus. There are some people from the baby boomer generation that do care. There are just not enough of them who are teaching.

    Thanks ionnes!

  3. Spiderman said,

    I totally agree.
    “Spiderman: oh hell no.” <–LMAO
    I had certain chem teacher that didn't give two craps (yes… TWO!!!) about whether or not we actually retained the information or actually fully understood the content, as long as we past her exams she felt like she did her job. She ended up giving us the answers on most of her tests in order to keep our grades up so the administration didn't get suspicious. Turns out, she got fired her first year teaching at the school and all her students hated her. To this day, I cannot balance an equation because she never fully taught me. Also, she borrowed my abayya which I still find disturbing.

  4. Noreen said,

    Spiderman’s story is hilarious!

    Noreen’s story:

    Had a chemistry teacher that I swear, faith786, you knew more chemistry than she did probably by the end of your first month of taking chemistry in 10th grade. She had to keep correcting herself (or getting corrected by the class nerd). She didn’t care about anything–chemistry, the students, or even how she looked when she came to class. She just tied her hair that she probably washed once every two months. I still don’t know what ICE has to do with chemistry and I don’t know the difference between an acid and a base other than one sounds more deadly than the others.

    Maybe if she cared a little more about… ANYTHING I may have learned something.

    Good post! I think it applies to all teachers. Good luck with your chemistry and teaching adventures!

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