Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Mirror Mirror on the wall, who is the greatest teacher of them all!!

This is a question that has consumed our students and educational system for years. It is also the same one that many of our “better-known” teachers are asking the reflection in the mirror each morning as they shave, trim or wash…. A useless meeting on Thursday showed me that they all believe they are great and the best in their fields!! A degree from the States or any European country and long years overseas… These are simply their codes/keys to enter the educational world and been described, rightly or wrongly, (by themselves, other colleagues and some students) as GREAT teachers…

If we looked deep into their performance….Their lessons/lectures do not reflect standards and guidelines, even though they may be aware that these exist! They don't have the time or energy to develop all the curricula for all the subjects they teach. They grade students either randomly or according to how well they like them!! They don’t see the need to change things; they’ve got a pretty good gig and would love to keep it. They are great at finding excuses for why changes just “will not work “for their classes. They don’t see themselves as big part of the educational system problem. They don’t understand how, or don’t care about the fact that they can help in solving these problems. They don’t understand the importance of their teaching responsibilities, and the potential impact they have on their students’ lifelong future. They won’t completely understand or be able to specify their true role in the educational system; they really believed that their students couldn't learn very much and we were naive to think otherwise….

The single most important factor determining the quality of the education a student receives is simply the “quality” of his teacher! In a crazy selfish educational system like ours, we should think more than once before describing our selves as GREAT in teaching or even see ourselves as superiors (this is common believe me!!!)… We are not great...we are not even teachers, in the true sense of the word….. Who is to blame for our faulty educational system? ….Teachers are really the focus here….Wake up my dears…”Great teachers make great students and therefore great universities…year after year, generation after generation” and this is not happening in our universities at all!!

We have to admit that the role of the teacher is changing. It is and has to be an ever-changing one. As we move through different trends in education, we talk independent learners, cooperative learning...we wander through the role of textbooks, of visual learning and kinetic learning and oral/aural learning, of the internet, of computer programs, of drilling, of interaction...we talk about communicative approaches versus memorization versus translation versus suggestopedia...In fact, we often talk as though all these things could exist separately and independently of each other, as if learning itself can be delineated clearly, as if there is such a thing as a single definition of a teacher or a great teacher...

Not everyone was meant to be a teacher….. I can testify that having a degree or even attaining a PhD does not make someone a great teacher!! Lecturers/teachers are not highly qualified until they are proven..... Unfortunately, there is no great test that we can hold teachers against….A quick literature review shows that being a “teacher” demands broad knowledge of subject matter, curriculum and standards; enthusiasm, a caring attitude and a love of learning and a desire to make a difference in the lives of students.

Great teachers: Set high expectations for all students expecting that all of them CAN and WILL achieve, Write-out objectives for clear lesson, Prepared and Organized: early and ready to teach presenting lessons in a clear and structured way, are masters of their subject matter!! Engage students and get them to look at issues in a variety of ways using effectively facts as a starting point, not an end point; asking "why" questions, look at all sides and encouraging students to predict what will happen next, Seek to maximize students' ability to think of and understand the world in which they must participate; their participation in their own education is a vital ingredient in this preparation to participate in the wider world. Teachers should be Creative, Flexible and able to adapt to new ideas, Warm, Accessible, Enthusiastic, Caring and Form strong relationships (without undoing their sense of authority) with their students and show that they care about them as individuals and the benefits of caring reach far beyond the class, Has no fear of the prospect that sometimes the teacher is learning and sometimes the student is teaching; they both grow and change when in relationship; they share the experience of learning, and in which the responsibility of learning is also shared

“The best teacher is the one who suggests rather than dogmatizes, and inspires his listener with the wish to teach himself” ......Edward Robert Bulwer-Lytton

With all these qualities required, it's no wonder that it's hard, if not impossible, to find a real great teacher… Before stating we are the best teachers in our fields, or even wishing for such a description! We should take the first step toward a solution....We should admit WE HAVE PROBLEMS, we have errors and we simply not doing our job (teaching) at all…Our education system should move towards building this “good teacher quality” with the design of the new curriculum; so the sooner teachers open themselves up to new ways the better…..

 
posted by Angel at 8:52 AM, |

4 Comments:

 Blogger abufares said:
"Not everyone was meant to be a teacher….."
How true!
What a great essay.
I realy think that teaching is the easiest yet most demanding job in the world. First and most important quality is the "love" of teaching. If it's not there, just forget it.
I've been blessed with a couple of them over the years. I can still remember particular phrases they uttered and individual moments of total communication between them and us. And, after all these years, I can still call them friends.
Are they hard to find? You bet.
 Blogger Angel said:
Dear Abufares,

You are perfectly right….. Passion for teaching, love to share their knowledge and their ideas……love to connect to students.... … They should be allowed to teach only because they love their work and they love their students.....I forgot the most important quality to be honest!!! God! Is this “quality” available in 10% of our teachers….. Hope so!!!.....

Describing two of your teachers by “friends” is really great….. Wish I will be blessed one day and be described this way…..

Thank you for passing by and for the time you took to read my thoughts and share with your invaluable opinion..
 Blogger Ascribo said:
Well, well, well! You're adressing more than one problem here!

Although I believe in every word you said, I tend to think in a more analytic way. The real and only problem is that nobody cares!
All other problems are secondary!

A good teacher, is....well, is a teacher. It's as simple as that! As Abufares has put it, the "love is teaching" that actually reflects the "love of giving" is what makes a teacher, in addition to CARE! A selfish PhD holder or an apathetic Board-certified asshole would never make a teacher, let alone a good teacher.

I was asking myself this very morning: Has Dr.XX taught me? Well, honestly, NO. Maybe she "teaches" (or think she is) at my university, but never taught me. Maybe she's mentioned all that there's to know, but never taught me. Maybe her lecture/book contained everything, but I learned nothing...

I have been grateful, yet felt ashamed, that a few Teachers in Oxford has taught me a lot, some of them I met for less than two hours. Why, we ask, we spend some 3 years with some people and yet we don't learn anything? I guess because they're not "teaching" to begin with.

Finally, I would say that we meet great teachers who do not lecture at Universities. There's been many great men who has given us a lot, whom we will remember forever. To Teach is to Give. C'est tout!
 Anonymous Free soul said:
Totaly agree with you..
Creative, Flexible ,Warm, Accessible, Enthusiastic, Caring and Form strong relationships...
Unfortunately those are the absent charm for teachers in our universities...
I have nothing to add on this!
You summarized it in a brilliant way....