My Thanks …
“I Have Had Kids Tell Me …”
Tomaz’s original tweet was “I’ve had kids tell me I suck as teacher because ‘I don’t teach them anything’ (i.e. tell them the ‘right’ answer). Think sunshine!” which set me to thinking very hard about my own style of teaching.
My Own Teaching Experience
I was perhaps extremely fortunate in my early teaching experiences (both voluntary and professional) in that the students were always motivated, and I unconsciously expected them to think about whatever it was they were learning about. I was also extremely comfortable with those students challenging my own thinking processes, and saying to me, in effect, “Justify your statement!”. It came as something of a shock some years later to start working with youth-at-risk and those not as blessed with cognitive powers as their peers.
I found that if even there is the smallest desire to learn, I can harness that spark, and help the student to achieve. (I regard myself as a resource to be utilised to help students achieve. If the student repeatedly and consistently refuses to work, then I cannot bring myself to waste myself as a resource on them while there are others in the class who I know will benefit from my efforts.)
Do I encourage my students to think? You bet I do! Having said that, my expectations of the level of thinking is predicated my assessment of their cognitive powers. (As an aside, I have not observed any correlation between cognitive powers and a desire to learn.) So for somebody who is working at Certificate IV level, I expect them to be able to think at a high level of abstraction; after all, they need to be able to do that for any Certificate IV qualification. At the other end of the cognitive spectrum, I still expect them to think in response to very simple questions, such as “What would you feel about [going there to have a holiday]?”
Is encouraging students to think good, bad or irrelevant? Do you have any other thoughts on this issue? I invite to share your thoughts in the comments below.