After being on the job for just about a month, the true reality of what it entails to be a teacher is just starting to set in. The idealism, positivity and optimism about what teaching entails can be so insidiously eaten away when you least realise it and at points, the sense of helplessness overwhelms you. I am thankful this week for great reminders from various articles which really inspired me to and reminded me of what’s important.
Janadas Devan’s Great Teachers are a Class of Their Own was one such article It’s accessible only if you subscribe to ST Online, but I’ll just quote some portions that really reminded me of how essential the teacher himself is in the whole experience of learning.
The truth of the matter is that teaching entails as much ‘doing’ as any other profession; indeed, it probably demands more from a person than most other jobs.
Consider how few exceptional teachers most of us have had in the course of our educational careers. Most of us would have had at least 12 years of schooling and some would have had an additional four years of university. In the course of those years, each of us would have been lectured, tutored or supervised by at least 100, if not more, teachers. Many, if not most, of them would have been competent; some would have been good. But how many would have been truly exceptional?
You cannot convey a love for a subject by insisting mechanically on its attributes. An exceptional teacher communicates through the sincerity of his interests, the genuineness of his enthusiasms, the disinterestedness of his scholarship – like the late Prof McMillan.
Bad teachers insist; good teachers show; exceptional teachers are. The reason the last are rare is that the most important things in any subject, as in life, cannot be taught explicitly. They can only be embodied as examples – in the teachers themselves.