Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Role Of Teachers - To Be Learnt, Not To Be Loved

It's easy to be loved as a teacher.

Shower your students with good grades like Christmas candies.

Provide them with ample of tips right before final exams.

Skip the tough topics.

Wave off their indiscretions with a friendly word of warning.

Reduce all your notes into Power Point slides and recite every word (nothing more, nothing less) during lecture, hence giving good reason for them to stay in bed instead of coming to class.

But doing all that serves to only impede their learning curve. Hence, the true measure of a teacher lies not in their popularity, but productivity.

"I wanted white roses for Teacher's Day, not red roses!"

* * *

That's not to say a good teacher should be a hate figure like Professor Snape, of course. Credibility comes with respect. A teacher has an easier job dispensing knowledge and wisdom to an attentive class. Students are more motivated to learn by the carrot, not the stick.

And so far, I've not been flooded with hate mails or death threats. By and large, the majority of my students have positive feelings about me - or so I'm told.

Still, my record is not unblemished. Some have voiced out of their displeasure of my methods. Some even doubt my morals.

How do I respond? Not much. I'm a man of action, not words. The need to even painstakingly explain to people to justify my actions already means I've done something wrong, somewhere. It's a job hazard. As teachers, we can't please everyone.

That said, I do wish students are able to see things from our perspective. To understand the hardships that we face on a daily basis. To forgive us for the mistakes we make, which we inevitably do, inasmuch as we strive to avoid.

* * *

#1 Teachers cannot help every student (in equal measure)

Let's say a class has 40 students. Some students are fast learners, some take longer to absorb the lessons, some don't even care.

Should every student be accorded equal amount of time and attention? Theoretically, yes. Practically, no.

For instance, a teacher should devote more time to struggling students. A smart student may even do well without any personal attention. And between two struggling students, it makes reasonable sense for the teacher to prioritise the more receptive one rather than the rebel who stubbornly refuses to listen.

Point is, there are many good reasons why a teacher may treat individual students differently. Students should not feel there's some kind of malicious discrimination or conspiracy going against them.

"No Hufflepuff losers allowed either"

* * *

#2 Teachers cannot be fully responsible for their students' results

Any student who does well is bound to attract the envy of their less successful peers. More so when the same student has seemingly gotten favourable attention from a teacher all year round.

The student gets constant praises during class, extra 1-on-1 sessions after school, and so on.

Teacher's pet! Bias! Report to the authorities!

True, the student may have benefited from the extra lessons.

But did the other students ever raise their hands to answer questions during class? Did they ever offer staying back for extra lessons instead of rushing back home?

Ultimately, each student is primarily responsible for their own success (or failure). A teacher is there only as a guide. If students lack the initiative to seek help, they have only themselves to blame.

* * *

#3 Teachers cannot take care of their students' feelings

What is the primary duty of a teacher? Simply put, to 'teach'. To dispense knowledge. To assist students in getting prepared and ahead in life.

It is not the duty of a teacher to make students feel loved and good about themselves. That's what family and friends are for.

Again, that's not to say that a teacher shouldn't try to be on friendly terms with students. But that's a nice-to-have bonus, not a need-to-have requirement.

The priority is clear. A teacher should focus on teaching, above everything else. A teacher should not refrain from giving constructive criticisms simply to avoid 'hurting the feelings' of students. Sugarcoating their flaws is but a temporary reprieve, and only harms them in the long run.

Ultimately, teachers should not compromise on the quality of their lessons for the sake of appeasing to the students' capricious emotions.

"Today, we will get to know each other better... nope, not doing this..."

* * *

Some teachers are loved, some teachers are hated.

Regardless, the best teachers don't give a damn what you feel about them.

They will get on with their job, helping as many students as they can, whether they are loved or hated.

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