Saturday, November 27, 2010

"Teacher said..."

I was having a conversation with my spirit sister and #1 supporter/fan the other day and she told me that she has been conducting an informal survey with the young people she meets (at her place of work) about what shapes their school experience.  She asks them what the key factor is in making their schooling a positive experience.

The number one answer: My Teacher(s).

And I realized that she had, in her anecdotal research, hit the nail on the head.  When I think back to my own schooling and discussions about schooling with other people, a prominent and recurring sentiment is that if the teacher was good, the learning was good.   (This, of course, begs the question "What makes a good teacher?" but let's let that sit for a minute or 10 while we carry on the theme of this post.)

Even though philosophy and curriculum/free-learning are cornerstones of the ideas many advocates of education reform are using to propel education forward, the fact is that it is all about the people.  The Village School can have the clearest vision and the most reliable funding and the best facilities in the world, but if we have "bad teachers" (forgive the 'dichotomic' figure of speech), it is all for naught.

Conversely, a child can attend a school which is (a part of a) theoretically flawed (system) - over crowded classes, metal detectors at the doors, low funding, you get the idea - and have a "fantastic teacher" that changes her life and puts her on the path to her own version of success.

Do you see what I am saying?

One Good Teacher can make all the difference in the world to even one child.

In my own story, the subjects that were my favorites and that I did well at, I had teachers that were passionate and alive and present and that Got me.  It is true that I now wish that even one  of them would have said "cian, you have the potential to be a great writer" or "cian, you have a knack for language." Anything at all like that would have been priceless.

I did not meet that teacher till I was a night student at a small local branch of an american college.  She was my instructor for English (101?) and I had submitted an essay about my experience of my great grandmother's passing.  When she returned it to me she told me that it was one of the best essays she had ever read and that I was a very good writer.  I was about 25 at the time and I remember being completely shocked at the idea.

I tell that short story about myself to say that I really believe that it's true that teachers can make or break a person's education.

It is so much more about the Beings than the context.

What makes a "good" teacher or a "bad" one?  While I certainly have some thoughts, I'd much prefer to hear yours.

1 comment:

  1. They have to be strict to get the class under control especially in todays times. BUT they also have to be very warm and loving. Rebeccas teacher last year was loving but oh so strict. I never knew what to expect upon picking up Rebecca. I trusted her on all field trips without me because she did seem to have an handle on the class even the really bad ones. She may have feared them into doing the right thing but when she was loving she would hold them in her arms and make them feel like they were the most special kids in the world. I go back many times to see her and I had tons of other type problems with her but on the whole we ended the year great. So great when i had a problem in this grade I went back to her for advise. Even the bad kids that did get into tons of problems with her go back often to visit. I guess I think a strict teacher is good but that loving side puts her over the top.