13 March 2007

Teachers are dangerous examples

A teacher explained: "I am fluent in my mother tongue because I speak it all the time. But I consider myself a better French speaker as a learner of its rule which I ignored in the former."
The big problem with teachers referring to their own learning experiences is that often teachers are good students. Of course, that wouldn't be a problem if our students were good students.

Some of us were good students in school. Perhaps we even sat in the front of the class, got good grades, really enjoyed learning, perhaps found it somewhat easier than our classmates. Many of these kinds of students become teachers. But that actually skews our viewpoints of the learning process and what works and what doesn't work in the classroom.

A friend and I decided to learn Japanese. We got a book. There were no tapes. I quit after two weeks. Today, my friend has a pretty good command of Japanese. He LOVES grammar, says it's like a puzzle to him. When he was in school he used to do algebra exercises for relaxation.

Frankly, these kinds of students we don’t have to worry about. They are going to learn English with us or without us or in spite of us. (And we also have to be careful that we don't look to them as brilliant examples of our teaching skills.)

The kinds of students we have to worry about are the ones who are not doing so well in the class. The "average" learner, not naturally academically inclined nor super motivated. The kid sitting in the back of the class, or at least in the middle.

So when we as teachers use ourselves as examples we have to ask ourselves are we the right kind of example to give us insight into our students needs?

1 comment:

  1. Good point. Unfortunately, it is only human nature to see the world in such a way. We tend to compare ourselves to our students, our children, our friends etc. The more insecure or conceited the teacher is, the more will they measure their success according to the best students, who would learn well anyway. Therefore, I judge a teacher's success by the way they treat "the kid sitting in the back of the class, or at least in the middle" and their ability to 'skip' themselves;o)