In my work as a teacher I have noticed that I tend to be very ‘soft’ with the children, in the sense that I’ve focused more on getting them to like me and on them enjoying the classes than on making sure that they learn. This has had the consequence that a lot of them don’t do their work and try to ‘trick’ me into not doing ‘boring’ stuff and only doing fun stuff like playing games. Now – this is quite a complex point, because on the one hand – my professional ambition is that education should be fun and enjoyable always and that it is the quality of the teacher’s professional skills that determine whether or not this is so. What I mean is that a teacher with a high quality of professionalism ought to be able to make even the most boring topic fun and enjoyable.
However at the same time, I also understand that everybody would prefer having an easy and fun time all the time, but there are things we have to do that aren’t necessarily fun or easy – and this is something that I’ve even had trouble accepting throughout my own life. And I see how they take advantage of my ‘softness’. So I have to teach them exactly as I’m now teaching myself, the value of hard work, the value of putting your all into a project, the value of completing something and being satisfied, the value of challenging yourself. Because I don’t want them to grow up and become like me and other adults around me where you fake your way through and not in any way value education, where you can barely commit to completing an assignment because you haven’t developed any form of self-discipline. So I want to challenge them as I’m now challenging myself to learn all the things that I didn’t learn growing up.
It is interesting to see how specific this situation is, in that it reflects directly back to myself. Because I also always tried tricking the teachers into doing something fun and I hated boring and tedious projects and I hated when there was something I weren’t good at. So I see how I have subconsciously (because I wasn’t aware of it) decided to not be the same kind of teacher that I experienced as a child. But I also realize that there were adult guidance that I would have benefitted from as someone teaching me the value of pushing through and expanding oneself as well as the satisfaction of doing work for oneself and perfecting and completing it.
So earlier today I saw a post on thumbpress titled “10 InappropriatelyFunny Test Answers! It was basically a collection of test answers from students who had mocked the test or the teacher or sometimes perhaps even written serious answers that was then considered funny because of its simplicity. This post was shared on Facebook as something funny but when I looked at it I couldn’t see anything funny about it. Because I remember exactly what it was like sitting they’re taking these tests, looking at this piece of paper. And often times, either I didn’t know the answer or I found the questions utterly trivial. And so I understand to some extent why students mock these tests, because in many instances there’s a complete disconnect between the lives of the students and what is presented to them by the teachers. It’s this theoretical world that often doesn’t have any connection to the child’s reality. However at the same time, the children often don’t understand or care about the consequences of failing a test and this can actually have tremendous effects on their future lives, at least when it is taken to the extreme of dropping out of school for example.
So what I see is that there’s a serious problem in how we as teachers are expected to teach children about the world.
Returning to my professional ambition as a teacher I am sure that it is possible to create educational curricular that children enjoy but this requires a high level of quality on the part of the teacher and for example in my job, I do get paid for preparing lessons, but this time isn’t part of my regular work schedule, which means that I have to do this work in the evenings and on weekends. With so little time, it is not practically possible for me to do the required research and planning to create a top quality curricular for my students. And I am sure that this is something many teachers can relate to. As I’ve been writing this I have come to realize that this idea of teaching children things that aren’t fun and enjoyable is a myth. But at the same time, this doesn’t mean that there won’t be situations where the child has to push through and for example do things that they find hard. After all, they’re in school to learn.
An ideal society is a society that truly cares about teaching children real and profound values that can assist them to grow up and become citizens who contribute to a world that is best for all. And it astounds me time and time again how we as a society take education for granted as though the current way of doing things is unquestionably the best and only way to do things – while all evidence shows that we’re doing something profoundly wrong and ineffective.
So I am taking up the challenge for myself to develop a way of teaching where I am not ‘soft’ on one hand, simply letting the children slide through actually doing them a disservice and on the other hand also not simply expecting that teaching has to be boring and tedious and that children simply have to learn to submit themselves because “that’s how life is.”
We don’t have to take the educational system for granted, however we obviously have to adhere to the current rules and regulations. And what this means is that one of the most important tasks teachers have is to get involved in the politics of education and contribute to changing the education system by sharing our perspectives, by showing what it is we do, by collaborating with and supporting each other to expand our professional ambition.
If I were a child today, I would want my teacher to challenge me. I would want my teacher to guide me and support me to understand and appreciate the work that I do as a student. I would also want education to be fun and enjoyable and relevant to my life and the world around me. And so what we can do as teachers is to give to our students the kind of education that we ourselves would have liked to receive. I mean, in the end, isn’t that what education should be based on and not some stagnated belief and doctrine where what we believe children have to learn doesn’t take the actual child into consideration?
In conjunction with this blog series, I suggest to take a moment to read the following blog-post on Basic Income and Teaching where the points I’ve discussed here are further expanded upon. I recommend reading the following blogs:
Natural Learning Abilities blog series – a MUST READ!
Education is a Human Right
Deconstructing the Root of All Evil
World’s best Education is based on Equality
The Fall of our Education System
Application of Knowledge, is it being Fostered in ourEducational Systems? – Education Research Part 1
You are also welcome to view the videos on my YouTube channel here