Your Kids Need Modern Teacher-Educators, Not Teacher-Dictators (10 Distinguishing Traits)

In a separate article, titled “Is Your Child Learning For School Or For Life?”, I explain why I believe every parent needs to emphasize for his/her child, the acquisition of knowledge/skills that will enhance the child’s ability to succeed in the real world, OVER mere academic ability.

The traditional educational institutions of old (which were mainly geared towards feeding industries with employees), had teachers concentrate on “moulding” learners to meet employers’ requirements.

Teaching methods were generally rigid and rote learning was emphasized – with dire consequences for learners who did not have the “stomach” for it. One notable example which proved the inefficacy of that approach was Albert Einstein, whose failure to demonstrate “learning” competently via memorization made teachers call him “dull-witted”. How ironic, considering that today, the same person is regarded as one of the greatest minds that ever lived.

Incidentally, Einstein did have a few things to say himself about the “Old School” teaching method. Reports have it that once, when asked the question “What is the speed of sound?” by a reporter, Einstein replied: “I don’t know. I don’t carry information in my mind that is readily available in books“. THAT answer in my opinion effectively makes the case for exploration/use of other learning methods outside rote memorization etc.

Some Of Today’s Teachers Still Use “Old School” Methods

Thankfully, over the years educationists gradually realised that the instincts of learners needed to be allowed to play a more influential/leading role in the learning process. Schools consequently adopted new approaches (like Montessori etc) which allowed children freedom to explore and learn by discovery, experimentation through play etc. This change in approach has generally resulted in more long lasting and qualitative learning experiences.

However, despite all the progress that has been made, and the awareness created/reforms adopted, some (presumably) modern day teachers with us today, continue to employ obsolete and inefficient teaching methods from the past in their classes. In the process, their learners are being short-changed on a daily basis.

The difference between old, traditional methods and the modern approaches being advocated has to do mainly with the style of teaching employed by the teacher. To put it another way, the type of teacher determines the type of teaching/learning situation that is created.

Differentiating Between A “Teacher-Educator” And A “Teacher-Dictator”

In my assessment, the foregoing make it important to identify the characteristics of the two main types of “teachers'” I have referred to. This is so as to guide parents/decision makers and even teachers to ensure the RIGHT teaching behaviour is employed at all times. This will ultimately help to create the right learning situation, thereby producing the desired learning output.

Below I offer bullet point descriptions of what I consider distinguishing attributes of the “Teacher-Dictator” (or Traditional Old School Style Teacher) as compared to those of the Modern Teacher who I like to call a “Teacher-Educator”.

Important: Please note that even though I have used these two broad categories/groupings of teacher “types”, in real-life there will be cases of individuals who exhibit traits from BOTH sides of the divide. What is essential is that a person involved in teaching in today’s world be encouraged, to strive to exhibit MORE “Teacher-Educator” traits. This “style” has greater potential to EMPOWER learners to derive life-long benefits from their formal learning experiences.

Acronyms: For convenience/ease of comparison, I have used an acronym to reprensent each teaching style, so that the contrasting traits can be reviewed side by side.

a. The Traditional/”Old School” Style Teacher(Teacher Dictator) = TOSST

b. The 21st Century or MODERN “Teacher-Educator” = MODTE

TOSST – Trait 1. Very often TELLS (but seldom SHOWS practically) the learner how to do something.

MODTE – Trait 1. Frequently helps the learner to “Learn By Discovery” (guiding by example as necessary). Encourages use of natural learning instincts.

TOSST – Trait 2. Is often more concerned about presenting him/herself as the final authority/source of knowledge to the learners.

MODTE – Trait 2. Typically offers him/herself as a guide/coach/mentor who will point out possible directions for the learner to follow on the path to self-discovery.

TOSST – Trait 3. Frequently inadvertently makes (or wants!) leaner to remain dependent on him/her.

MODTE – Trait 3. Will be “popular” for empowering learners to be independent in thinking/actions from him/her.

TOSST – Trait 4. Sometimes recycles teaching aids/materials used, to the point that learners sometimes correctly predict likely “content” to be delivered.

MODTE – Trait 4. Continually exploring new areas of thinking/development as they occur, with a view to discovering better ways to achieve the results desired by his/her learners. There’s always something new/refreshing to learn from him/her.

TOSST – Trait 5. Not inclined towards formal self-development efforts to improve his/her competence. Often feels what s/he already knows will always be more than enough for the learners.

MODTE – Trait 5. Vigorously pursues Self-Development opportunities to acquire new/useful additional KAS (i.e. Knowledge, Attitudes & Skills) to deliver better value to learners.

TOSST – Trait 6. Often more concerned about being part of a teacher-group, and expressing similar ideas to its members.

MODTE – Trait 6. Values his/her independence in deciding what to do to help the learners – even as s/he abides by set rules/seeks input from colleagues to improve quality of learning delivered. Places emphasis on freedom to express his/her own ideas/convictions, and pursue them.

TOSST – Trait 7. Often not comfortable with learners who demonstrate keen desire to explore beyond what s/he has taught or is prepared to teach.

MODTE – Trait 7. Derives great satisfaction from seeing learners demonstrate improved competence based on “discovered” learning achieved via self-directed efforts in their spare time.

TOSST – Trait 8. Tends to emphasise theoretical concepts and classroom based situations. Spares little thought for showing learners how the what they learn can be usefully applied in the real world.

MODTE – Trait 8. Keen to make learning real-world relevant. Helps learners relate knowledge acquired to its application in the real world (E.g. What can we use an understanding of compound interest for in life? How does the nitrogen cycle sustain aquatic life?). This way, learners are better prepared to apply their knowledge PROFITABLY to productive purposes in life.

TOSST – Trait 9. Generally believes that his/her job ends in the classroom and that whatever the learners do outside of it is unlikely to require his/her attention or action.

MODTE – Trait 9. Demonstrates passion for “educating” others around (colleagues, parents etc) about how they can contribute to improving the learning experience for his/her pupils/students etc.

TOSST – Trait 10. Products(learners) turned out often display undue penchant for “rote” learning, with seeming aversion for independent self-expression, and creative thinking.

MODTE – Trait 10.Products(learners) turned out tend to be creative, and independent-minded thinkers – often expressing original ideas with passion, and pursuing self-improvement with enthusiasm.

Summary

Decision makers in educational institutions – especially those engaged in provision of early education for young children – in my opinion need to ensure their teachers employ the “Teacher-Educator” style as frequently as possible, if not at all times. The benefits (outlined above) accruable to the children, and the school itself (in terms of quality of learning performances the kids deliver ) strongly suggest there is wisdom in doing this.

Parents will also want to regularly discuss “school/class work” with their kids and possibly make out time to interact with their kids’ teachers to get a feel for the teaching style favoured by the latter. If necessary, they could then gently request needed modifications in the teacher’s approach or work with the kids at home to make up for any shortcomings they identify.

What is most crucial is that learning experiences be made as pleasurable/rewarding as possible for our kids. When they find joy in learning, their desire to continually seek new learning as they grow into adulthood will never diminish. They will, as a result, be able to explore/discover their full potentials over time to the ultimate benefit of the larger society.

FINAL WORDS: It goes without saying that all I have advocated in the article is my personal opinion, and you would be well advised to seek the counsel of competent persons in deciding what line of action to pursue.

Eco-Psychology and Expressive Arts – Truly a Holistic Offering

Dianne Monroe of San Antonio, TX is an Expressive Art Facilitator who combines eco-psychology in her work. She shares what she does and why she is called to this work.

GJC: What do you do?

DM: I am an Expressive Arts Facilitator, writer and photographer.

Much of my work is about facilitating reconnection (with our inner selves, with others, and with the natural world) and guiding people to discover, explore and deepen their understanding of their unique gifts and how they live them in this world. Through workshops, classes and consulting I offer my own blend of Expressive Arts and Eco-Psychology – using arts, creativity and nature to offer tools and pathways for healing, connection, a deeper understanding of self and as a guide in one’s journey through life.

GJC: How have you prepared for your career?

DM: My life experiences have prepared me for what I do!

An early love of art and deep connection with others led to my work as a writer and photographer, and many years as an Arts Educator working with both children and adults.

Through my work as a writer and photographer I personally experienced the power of art and nature to touch hearts, change lives and express the intimate mysteries of the human spirit. As an Arts Educator, I felt great joy in my ability to offer this experience as a gift to others.

My personal journey to better understand this profound power led me to study Expressive Art, through the program led by Barbara Ganim at Salve-Regina University. During my studies, I discovered Eco-Psychology and began to develop my own way of blending these two fields (Expressive Arts and Eco-Psychology). Since that time I have deepened my conversation with the natural world, pursued further learning, and continued to evolve my work and what I offer to others.

GJC: Why are you called to this work?

DM: Again, life called me to do this work.

It was through my own artistic journey and life journey that I experienced again and again the profound power of art – to touch, heal, change. My many years as an Arts Educator showed me that this power lies within everyone.

For me, art and creativity are as natural and intrinsic to humanity as breathing – and can open us to new ways of experiencing, knowing and being in relationship with ourselves, others and our world. We are all artists and the most important artwork we are creating is our lives, our unique selves, and how we live our gifts in this world.

I am called to this work because I want to share the joy of this discovery with others.

GJC: Do you work with individuals? Groups? Workshops? Conventions? Conferences?

DM: I work with both groups and individuals. I offer workshops, classes and consulting. I have presented and brought workshops to conferences and also trained therapists, counselors, teachers and others in ways to integrate the arts into their work. I offer consulting on Expressive Arts and nature activities with youth. I can also work by phone.

GJC: Will you travel?

DM: Yes, I enjoy traveling.

Understanding the Boundary Between Education and Literacy

The Title is self-explanatory. Let’s clear our concepts first;

What is Literacy?

Literacy is the ability to read, write and express ourselves. The key to literacy is reading development, a progression of skills that begins with the ability to understand spoken words and decode written words, and culminates in the deep understanding of text.

What is Education?

I define Education as the capability to use the ability to express ourselves. This is one line definition of education. Education is the application of literacy, not just the literacy.

A person can’t say that “I am educated because I know how to read, write and express myself.”

Coming to my point, Are we really getting educated or just literate? People pursuing great degrees are still left unemployed. Students with great minds and talents are unemployed and maximum number of unemployment can be seen in engineering. Why is this? The answer to all these questions is THEY ARE JUST LITERATE, NOT EDUCATED.

They lack skills because they just know to express themselves but they don’t know how to express, why to express and what to express. Education involves whole methodology of applying skills, to foster development and exploring new ideas.

Now, coming to India’s education system, I believe that India is focussing on its academics but not in proper manner. Children here are characterized on the basis of their grades, marks and how much they know, not on their talent, skills and how much they discover the undiscovered. The children who have knowledge are intelligent but the children who discover and explore knowledge are called to be wise and genius.

Taking an example, Albert Einstein found no profit and interest in knowing history and learning those dates, left one of the best schools by giving fake medical certificate of nervous breakdown and started discovering the undiscovered, exploring the unexplored and fostering the science and technology not for anyone else but for himself, for getting inner satisfaction and peace. He is one of the best scientists who brought a new look to the era of science.

The people in India who are extremely talented and skillful, leave the country for getting better jobs and opportunities in foreign cities. Why this happens? What is the reason? What makes people and talents of India to leave such a wonderful country? Is this because of outer fantasies, glories or fame? No, the answer is, India lacks in its education system which makes Indian talents to settle outside.

India is a democratic developing country. India is developing constantly in its academics but in wrong way. We are just getting LITERATE, not EDUCATED.

Leaving a question for you;

Are you just literate or educated?