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Friday, September 24, 2010

The Flashback and Its Implications on the Not So Distant Future

I had this conversation with a friend of mine a few days ago and I really wanted to blog about it the moment I came back but the problem was that I had exams and I really, really needed to study. Either way, I found time to simply rant with no worries (yet) today and decided to just go with that..So, to keep it short the conversation was about internship and teaching. For those who don't know or have forgotten about it, I am currently pursuing (I never did understand why we use that verb) a degree in English Language.

     I am in no way complaining about the course that I am taking but one thing that I would like to gripe about is how focused everyone seems to think that teaching is the only logical choice after graduating. Surely that is not the only choice for us...surely there are something else that we can do. I have to admit that when I filled in that form, I wasn't expecting myself to be a teacher and that view has not change since then. I have nothing against the profession of teaching but I just can't see myself as Master Yoda to some young padawan because of certain reasons. Here are the few reasons listed below. But before I continue on please excuse me for a moment...
     *Went to check dictionary* It seems that according to "The Little Oxford Dictionary", the verb "teach" is to give information, instruction, or training to (person) or about (subject, skill); practise this as a profession; advocate as moral etc. principle. To my understanding, to teach is to provide information while at the same time encourage and instil positive moral values in the students. 
     So now that we have the definition of teaching covered, let's move on to my tiny phobia towards teaching gained from my experiences with teachers.

Teaching = obsession in getting good image garnered from students' results
I don't know about the rest of the population but this seems to be especially true for students who are getting ready for their major exams (read; UPSR, PMR, SPM, STPM) and it seems to me like the teachers are more obsessed than the students themselves in getting good grades (translated; A1). They are so obsessed to the point that the moment they enter the class, they (the teachers) starts droning on and on about the subject, vomiting facts and don't really care if the students understand what they are 'teaching'. I guess, it's partially the society's fault for being so grade-oriented but I feel that the most important part about teaching is to understand the student's predicament and try to teach according to the student's ability and not simply teach by regurgitating every single thing to the walls. The only reason they are so obsessed about the grades are not because they care for the students; which incidentally wouldn't be so bad if it were true, but it's simply because they want to create a good image for themselves and the school. Doesn't that seem a bit selfish to you? I am afraid that if I do decide to teach one day, I would end up being a teacher like that and I feel that if I am that kind of teacher I will not only be doing wrong to myself but to the students as well. This is not teaching. This is more like listening to a tape with no pause or rewind button who cares only about its reputation... 

Teaching = easy job because you don't really need to care
Again, this is something that happens in my education life. These are the kind of teachers that go "Morning class, do whatever you want, Thank you class" and leave when their session is over. This is especially true for language teachers who seem to think that language is something that the students already know so they do not need to put in any effort in teaching the students. In my opinion, no matter what subject it is you're teaching you should never assume that the students are experts on the subject. If you are a teacher, aren't you hired to do your job? To teach? Do you feel proud of the salary that you get at the end of the month because if it had been me I don't think I can receive my salary because I hadn't been doing my job. It's teachers like these that give bad names to the profession which create a bad image in my mind whenever someone mentions teaching. 

Teaching = demand for impossible feat from your students
Here's how a typical scenario goes. The teacher goes into the class not doing his/her job every single day for the semester then BAM! exam is here and he/she ask questions that he/she has never taught before or didn't teach at all. Of course, some students are able to answer the questions thanks to tuition or their overly-genius brain but the rest are left gasping at the paper, staring blankly on as they try to sift through their dwindling memories to find out how to answer the question. This irritates me a lot when it happens to me. If you're the teacher then you should know what you should teach the students and what questions to set for the exam because that's what the curriculum specification is for. Sadly, that is not happening and I am freaking afraid that this might be what I will morph into if I do become a teacher. I do not want to hold such a big responsibility in manoeuvring a kid's life...it's stressful!!
     Enough bashing on the teachers...let's move on to the students...I may have been unfairly portraying the teachers since I do not have the experience of being one but since I do have a whole lot of experience of being a student I can truthfully say that the biggest fear I have towards teaching are the students.

Students who don't care
I am guilty of being this type of student; the ones who don't care and never pay attention to what the teachers are saying in front of the class. That is, until I go on to my tertiary education. Anyways, I have friends who are still like that and whenever we do any group discussion in preparations for an exam, my friends will be asking me questions that they should know if they had been paying attention in class or reading the books. And it annoys me to death because I feel like they should know this and if they care at all they should have done their homework instead of relying on me. Even after I patiently try to explain the answer to the question there's no thank you and it's not even over. They continue on to demand (seriously, they do demand) for an example which further infuriates me. It left me thinking how the heck did they manage to get themselves up to this point. 
     This is the product of today's education. The lack of effort to think for themselves and the total dependence to someone else for answers. Seeing as how annoyed I get just from 'discussing' with my friends for exams, I don't really think I can handle teaching a class of students who are exact replicas of these typical students who don't care. Furthermore, I really cannot stand people who can't be bothered to think before they ask questions. It is up to this point that I suddenly realise, the teachers that I had the misfortune to encounter may have been like that because of the students. I'm pretty sure they were once young and idealistic and really do have the ambition in teaching the students. But because the students themselves do not listen in class due to their dependence on tuition, the teachers may have become jaded and soon stopped caring. Then again, they may have been like that all along...
     By now, you can probably tell that there are two, maybe three kinds of teachers in the world. The first kind are the teachers who are obsessed with themselves (i.e. teaching to get good results in order to gain good reputation), the second kind are the teachers who simply don't care what happens to their students, and the third and the rare kind are the teachers who actually do teach and do care. Throughout the whole course of my education life up to this point, I have to say out of ten teachers there are only one to two who really do teach; teach in the sense as stated in the dictionary. Seeing as the 'bad' ones never really set a good impression on me I finally develop this prejudice against the teaching profession. My mom has been enthusiastically encouraging me to try taking up the profession and after giving much thought I might actually consider teaching for my industrial training just to see how I handle it and whether or not I might change my mind about it. Until then, there's still time for me to float around and play with other ideas I have about the future...Nothing is set in stone anyway so I might as well continue to take my time in making my decision...