Teachers – who are they?

Ever consider who are the people that teach your children?  I don’t mean as individuals, but who teachers really are - philosophically ?  As individuals, teaching probably has a mish-mash of personalities like any other profession with good and bad traits, after all, nobody is perfect. Philosophically, however, I believe there’s a problem.  And the problem lies not so much in the teachers themselves, but the position they hold in relation to our children’s future (and present).  Personally, we don’t really care too much about the personalities of our mechanic, plumber or even our doctor once they get the job done efficiently and accurately.  Teachers, however, are a different matter simply because we know that who they are and how they behave can have an impact on who our children become. 

Most teachers nowadays aren’t individuals who are living their career dream.  The truth is given an option, most will choose an alternative career.  They treasure their holidays, weekends and shorter working hours.  They feel stressed at dealing with their students especially those in public schools.  This is understandably so when even we parents seem to ‘lose it’ when dealing with our own few children.  To give them their due, however, I believe that the majority of teachers do try.   It’s not easy to be in an environment such as theirs.  In fact it’s not even natural. Many teachers go well beyond their call of duty.   Some really care for their students which is about the best possible trait any teacher could ever have.

Many, teachers, particularly those in public schools and the lower paid private schools are not the world’s brightest.  Many lack the ability to look at their own actions in an external and objective manner, that is, they are not always conscious of their actions or the reason for them.  Very few are cognisant of how children really learn.  Others too, over the years, have become polluted with a sense of power over their students.  This is particularly scary.  The aggressive approach to teaching by teachers who have been tainted by this sense of power can adversely affect their students.  We see the results every day where children have become ‘harden’ [correctly pronounced, 'hardened' - ever wonder where that word came form - really, examine it].  Others have become fearful or withdrawn. 

Let me relate an experience that demonstrates this point. I, a 46 year old male, recently took a short course in sailing at the Sailing School of the Trinidad and Tobago Sailing Association in Chaguaramas.  The course comprised of 6 one-on-one lessons. My instructor, a very adept sailor and an experienced teacher was somewhat authoritarian in his approach.  The first couple of sessions went well.  However, when I started making mistakes in manoeuvres I had already done properly in previous sessions, my instructor berated me a bit.  I think he was trying to get me to pay more attention to what I was doing, but the truth was I was already paying all the attention I had and trying my utmost to remember.  I think the biggest mistake was that I was actually trying to impress my teacher and some how ‘tried too hard’.  My mind got all confused and resulted in poor performance.  At the time I recognized none of this.  I thought he was a great teacher and told him so.  I just thought that I was a horrible student, and maybe I was, but in hindsight I think that if he used a softer approach with a student like me, it would have been a more productive experience for both of us.  Incidentally, I recommend the course to anyone.  It’s great value for money and you’re on the sea from day one.  I am even contemplating doing it over some day.  If I do, you can bet I will take a different approach this time.

I am not sure, if I am getting my point across.  I would be glad if readers comment on this so I will know.  In summary, I believe we expect too much from teachers.   We expect teachers to give the kind of attention to our children that we ourselves are not prepared to give.  We expect our children’s teachers to be better human beings than ourselves.   Such expectations are unrealistic and really even unnecessary.

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