Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Teacher, teacher, what are you thinking?

In another life I was a teacher. A colleague sent me the following. He is in his seventies now but still lectures at a university part time.

I am not sure I agree with all of it, but it certainly set me thinking.
Tell me what you think.

Nineteen thoughts about teaching. The twentieth has no words.

1.            Even when students do not do what a teacher plans for them it does not mean the students are worthless and unable.
2.            Aristotle: ‘Educating the mind without educating the heart is not educating.’ I call it "white collar vocational training" or "credentialing." In other words, there are a moral roles and functions that should be inseparably woven in with the material missions. It is often ignored--except in eloquent and empty mission statements. Yet, it is the moral compass that should provide the guiding spirit of an education. Mastery of the subject means nothing if we don't help students acquire a mastery of themselves.
3.            If you think technology is the magic bullet, the panacea, I would remind you when Lewis Waterman invented the fountain pen, people did not suddenly become Shakespearean writers.
4.            How many students think their first name is "wrong" or their nickname is "you can't?"
5.            Nothing makes a student more able and capable than being helped to believe she or he is able and capable.
6.            If we're spending all our time transmitting and stuffing in, how can we call forth? If we're doing so much talking, when do we listen?
7.            A presumption or generalization or stereotype about students is nothing more than someone being tired of seeing, listening, feeling, and thinking.
8.            The character of a teacher is revealed on the third or fourth or even fifth second chance.
9.            Lectures, tests, grades? Abraham Maslow said that if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.
10.         Show me someone who says he can teach in his sleep and I will show you someone who walks into the classroom in his sleep and who puts people to sleep.
11.         I wish people would listen to Heraclitus and realize they never step into the same class twice. Each day you have to start over in each class with each person.
12.         We should teach to transform, not teach to a test.
13.         My authority in the classroom does not come from my tenure, title, and/or resume; it comes from my unconditional caring, empathy for, commitment to, respect for, my belief in, faith in, hope for, and love for each person in that classroom. In the spirit of Lao Tzu, when students are sincerely cared about, when they feel they are loved, when they know someone has faith and belief in them, they have a better chance of finding their inner strength and courage. If you judge a student, when do you have time to believe in, have faith in, have hope for, and love her or him.

14.         Tenure is not synonymous with backbone. Fear does not make for connection or community; instead, it breeds strangeness and aloneness; it widens the chasm.
15.         As a gardener, I can bear witness that as long as you weed out, some part of you, your efforts and your time cannot nurture.
16.         Into the classroom came those weak in self-esteem, lacking in confidence, shy, the haughty and arrogant. Seeing them as the "they're letting anyone in," the professor cried out, "They're unprepared; they don't belong here. Oh God, how is that You, a loving creator, can see such things, let them happen, and yet do nothing to help them?" The professor then heard a voice saying, "I did do something. I sent you."
17.         You cannot help a student "become" unless you accept where she or he is.
18.         I wish a lot of us would stop searching for the pot of gold in the classroom and be the pot of gold.
19.         And finally, Buddha says that a thousand candles can be lit from one candle. So, all I want is for people to say of me is, "He touched one student and changed the world."
These pictures are from the internet, Google Images. 
I am using them by assuming they are available through creative commons.

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