Educator’s – why they’re equally as important.

Posted on: 09/11/2011

There’s no denying it – I have never liked school. The upside to school is I get to see my friends. That was in primary school. In secondary school, the upside was that I get to see my friends and cheerlead.

Let’s start from the beginning. I was inspired to write this after seeing this post on Facebook. The Malaysian education system has once again failed to educate youths who are now entering university. And to be honest, I don’t blame these students because I’m a victim too. Yes, you might think: “Of course you don’t blame yourself for anything” but hear me out.

I was a weak student, I won’t deny that. But I know now that all I needed is a push. That push came from a dedicated and well-meaning teacher who I will meet later on in my final two years of school. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here!

When I was a child, no teacher pushed me. The only thing I got an A for is English because I speak English at home, and read a lot of English books. For all the other units at school, I was very very bad at. Why? Because teachers only know how to be strict. Here’s an example of what happens when you ask a teacher to explain something again:

Student: Teacher, can you please explain again?

Teacher (exasperated): What don’t you understand?!

Student: *keeps quiet with red face because teacher made student sound stupid*

And how do teachers counter students who are talking? The age-old method I hear year in and year out:

Teacher: Excuse me, you over there. Why are you still talking when I’m teaching!

Student: *keeps really quiet and snaps back to attention*

Teacher: The next time you talk, maybe you’d like to share it with the class. *evil stare*

If you put someone down for merely talking in class, that is no way to garner respect from students. Yes, they didn’t respect you if they were talking to each other in class while you were teaching. But is putting them down really the only way to get them to pay attention to you? I find it normal for students to chit chat during a class. If a student isn’t naughty or talk in class, then there must be something wrong with them. The only thing they know is that you were a total b*tch to them by reprimanding while ambarrassing them.

How is that a good way to educate someone too? And you know what? That’s how I was in school. My parents have always encouraged me to ask questions. So I ask, got the aforementioned reaction from my teacher, and felt incredibly stupid for even asking and never asked another question again. By instiling that sort of feeling in your student, do you think they will respect you as a teacher? Certainly not. Instead of instiling inquisitive individuals in school, teachers act like disciplinarians.

On top of that, peer pressure is not always avoidable. Some children learn things faster than others.  But sometimes, even the fastest learner will have a question or two; although it may seem stupid, it is still a question. I find that teachers are quick to brush questions aside and make students feel stupid. How do you encourage students to ask and be inquisitive when you react to their questions as if it were stupid?

When other students understand something and a select few don’t, they will resort to keeping mum because they don’t want their friends to think they’re stupid. If the teacher clearly shows and thinks that you’re stupid, I won’t be surprised if other students react the same way. As if it isn’t obvious enough, teachers are people who others learn from. What makes you think students don’t learn to shun those who are ‘not as bright’ when the teacher does so too?

Something else that teachers fail to realise when it comes to teaching a student during those rebellious teenage years is learning to be a friend to them. Of course, you’d have to maintain keeping a boundary between a student and a teacher, but I believe that if you tried to reach out to 30 of them, 10 will reciprocate. Which teenager doesn’t want someone to undersand them? This comes to teachers being disciplinarians again.

Teachers are more likely to punish bad behaviour (although parents nowadays will complain against it). How often can you punish a teenager for bad behaviour? Wouldn’t it be better to talk to them to find out why they did so? Teachers act not only as a medium for students to get knowledge, but I truly believe that teachers are people who we should (or could) refer to as tolerant, patient beings that impart knowledge – someone we could look up to. They are people who we should be able to talk to, and have some form of understanding from.

It’s no wonder that between terrorising students and disciplining them, the focus has been skewed from teaching. It’s no surprise why students don’t learn things properly. Teachers should let the discipline teachers do their job. After all, isn’t that what they are suppose to do? Says so in their title! 

Now we’ve come to that hard part – my story. I have to admit that I learnt math properly in my final years in school, and here’s why:

Two years before freedom (as I know it), I was challenged, encouraged, and literally saved by my math teacher. I’ve never been a big fan of math, but boy did she push (when I say push, I meant nurturing nudge to the right direction).

If I skipped class, I’d still have to go to her, answer her questions about why I wasn’t in her class, and she’ll give me homework. She’d then request for one of my friends who’re awesome academically (still good friends with them til today which I’m grateful for!) to teach me the basics. The next day, she expects me to hand in my homework like everyone else without any excuse.

If you think that that’s wrong, well I think her method worked with me. My theory is this:

  • She probably knows that I’m brave enough to face her/face the music, so she requests to see me each time I skip her class so she could talk to me. And when she does, she speaks to me like an adult. She calmly asks why I skipped class, and if she were to appoint my friend to teach me, could I please hand in the homework tomorrow like everyone else.
  • Secondly, she throws the challenge at me to be better maybe because she knows I love healthy competition (as witnessed through cheerleading competitions).

By wanting to speak to me, I feel as if she wasn’t going to give me a hard time, she just wants me to learn. By getting one of my friends to teach me, it means I’m peer-learning so I CAN ask stupid questions if I want to and there’s no stress. By asking me to hand in my homework like everyone else, she’s challenging me to get something done.

Of all the teachers I know, she’s the one who tolerates it when we ask her some seemingly stupid questions. She’ll laugh it off and answer the question anyway. I’ve noticed that by doing so, she banters well with the whole class and basically became friends with us! So, the question now is this: Why can’t all teachers teach like her?


1 Response to "Educator’s – why they’re equally as important."

Puan Loy JJ for the win, now and forever more. 🙂

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