Why Teaching is a Complex Human Activity

EdStory by Anand George from Thiruvananthapuram

Source: https://www.theodysseyonline.com

Historically ‘teaching’ as been perceived and agreed as the easiest job to do. In India, especially, one who couldn’t find any job would join ‘teaching’ profession to earn livelihood or to stick around until one get other ‘proper’ job. Here I am not generalizing those passionate individuals who have given best years of their life to shape the future of thousands of students who in return have contributed to the building of our great nation.

Teaching was merely considered as transferring of content knowledge from the textbook to the student – thus teacher essentially acted as a pipeline or in other words just a ‘machine’ who does the mechanical job

There were teachers in pockets of India who inspired and enabled students to fall in love with learning rather than just transferring of knowledge, however the count is minuscule.

In this post, I would lay my opinions on why Teaching as a profession is one of the toughest and posses challenges unlike other professions.

  1. Interacting with Human Mind: Imagine a class of 40 students, even while you teach one concept or few examples to them. Each mind perceives and interacts with it in a different way, thus essentially it is a battlefield of ideas and thoughts. A teacher negotiates through to explain and help the cohort understand the concepts – but at the end of the day – the teachers is clueless on how much impact the whole magic has made? We quantify, of course, using various parameters like asking questions and tools like assessments but there’s isn’t any absoluteness to it. After all, thats the beauty of human beings and the pedagogy that might evolve or is evolving is catering to it. The steady mushrooming of personalized learning solutions are nothing but systems designed to cater to the ‘smart’ being. Research suggests the infinite capacity of human brain and anyone can learn anything. Stanford Professor Carol Dweck’s research on human brain has revolutionized how we as educators think of human learning. The concept of ‘Growth Mindset’ has come as a boon for millions of children in school and the concept is acting to create a better learning environment for young learners.
  2. Learning NOT Teaching: ‘Teachers’ word is derived from the word teaching. One who teachers is teacher. But the big question is whether we can teach? If we could teach we would have been successful in teaching everyone with same amount of knowledge or skills. But does it happen in reality? Obviously there are factors influencing teaching but the essence is on the other side – how much the learner is learning and what are the factors influencing learning? Thus teachers facilitate learning. And learning is the function that depends on the teacher and numerous other things like learning materials, class strength, teachers attention to the child, child’s background among others.
  3. The Child: Learning is a journey – only classroom learning is a small stake that contributes to the overall learning. However, the small stake is one of the controlling stake as it has the potential to create spark and making the child a lifelong learner. The other controlling stake is child’s home – where he spends most of the time. Others are his friends, neighborhood among others.
  4. The Influences: Human being is moulded by the experiences and influences in one’s life. Remember, a musician inspired by parents, family or friends? A right amount of exposure helps young children find role model and gain aspirations that stays for life which intact build solid foundation for motivation to learn and progress. A bad company or influences might lead to struggle for the child during teenage or adulthood.
  5. Parenting: I remember meeting a fellow blogger in Bangalore who had informed me how his blog was a hit in the west especially USA. I was surprised to hear that, but at the same time those words have become ‘an example’ to me which I often refer whenever I am talking about either blogging or parenting. Today I stand in a position wherein I say that ‘parenting’ is one of the most important phase in one’s life. Parenting does all the difference, consider it a child growing up to become a responsible citizen or building his creativity. The key lies in parenting, it is child’s first preschool which is just priceless. If you are a teacher, do this experiment – in your class list out students with better learning and track their family background, there are higher chances that you will discover that the parting has been done properly or parents are aware about how to engage with the child at home. They might have provided with right exposure and learning opportunities at home.

These all pointers takes us to an understanding that better learning isn’t the direct function of teacher effectiveness. There are dozens other factors that influence how a child learns. Thus, if you are demotivated or are thinking that you aren’t teaching well, just sit and relax. Connect the dots, reflect on your practice and amplify your practice by being aware of factors that influence child’s learning and how the factors can be leveraged to better use or how we can overcome the negative factors.

Do let me know your thoughts on this topic, do send me your comments using the comment box below and additionally it would be great if you can share this reflection within you community of friends.

This edStory is part of a series #MyReflection, if you wish to write one, get in touch with us at schoolingmatters16@gmail.com


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