Unfortunately, even if not angry, many teachers still consider themselves as the controllers of learning in front of the class. They keep complaining about the inability and laziness of students, who don’t seem to remember what they, in their well-meaning wisdom, have told them hundreds of times. The old behaviourist belief that teaching (=telling/lecturing/pointing out) will inevitably lead to learning hasn’t yet been replaced by new constructivist methods in most classrooms. Some colleagues even feel that they are not properly earning their salaries if they don’t teach (=speak) in class most of the time, and spend countless hours outside the classroom chewing and organising all the material required by the curriculum into easily digestible chunks to then serve to the students.
However, it’s a totally different story when you start focusing on what actually happens in the students’ heads in class. Are they learning? And if not, why not? I can repeat the same old English grammar rules till I’m blue in the face, and still, over half the class never get it – the same infuriating mistakes recur on too many exam papers, course after course, year after year. Brings to mind the old slogan used in an MTV environmental campaign: If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.
So, if I don’t want to be a teacher in the traditional sense, what should I call myself then? A facilitator, a guide, a trainer, a coach? In fact, why try to be clever and think of a new name, I am still a teacher, but in the 21st century the meaning of the words ‘teacher’ and ‘teach’ should be reconsidered and expanded. I’ve been thinking of nice metaphors to illustrate how I see my role as a teacher.
I might see myself as a construction worker putting up the exactly right scaffolding needed for each student to create their magnificent and unique buildings of personal knowledge.
On second thoughts, though, even if this idea is widely used in constructivist theories, somehow it seems too technical for my more humanistic mindset.
If any fellow teachers read this post, it would be really interesting to hear what metaphors you may have for your role as a teacher!
Photos (other than my own)