The role of teachers is one of those perennial topics that rides the media circuit with alarming regularity. It seems everyone has an opinion about what constitutes effective teaching and politicians, journalists and researchers are all eager to add their voice to various teaching associations and parent groups in order to explain what ‘should’ happen in the classroom.
While there are some differences of opinion, it is generally acknowledged that the teachers who have the most impact on learning outcomes, are those who take the time to understand their student needs and perceive them as individual learners (rather than a homogenous mass). At this point I could start pointing to various research studies and highlight some of the amazing work being done by individual teachers. Alternatively I could bemoan the lack of understanding demonstrated by those who do not spend the best part of each day standing in front of a class. But I won’t. Like many others, I have already written posts which explore attitudes toward teachers and teaching (Just a Teacher, What Do Students Need, Teacher Need Time to Think, A Teaching Analagy for the Bureaucratically Minded)
Instead I would like to share the thoughts of three learners (teen and adult ) who responded to a question I asked about a year ago; ‘what should teachers teach?’ The answers are not ground-breakingly new, however they are refreshingly candid, direct and practical. These are comments made by learners who have a clear vision of the teacher they need.
“Teachers should be able to teach their students how to learn. They teach them about the subject of choice but also the life lessons our parents sometimes forget to teach us. They should teach us how to work hard, how to get results when we need them, how to calm down before an exam, etc. In my view teachers are there to teach me how to learn. In life I will need to have the skill of learning about different things at difficult times.” (Amy)
“Teachers should teach you how to come up with the answers on your own”. (Danny)
“The bits in between that I don’t get…Even now.” (Charlene)
What do you think? What do you want from your teacher? Perhaps equally importantly, what do you expect from yourself as a learner? Compare your responses to those above and think about what they suggest about the relationship between teaching and learning. Now, recall all of the news reports you have seen recently about teaching and learning. Are we on the same page?
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