Monochrome Teaching

One of my pet hates is bad teaching. That’s because I value education enormously, so seeing it done poorly stings. So it’s a breath of fresh air to see this:

So it came as something of a shock, in the second semester of my senior year, to encounter a pair of teachers who told us that recognizing how little you knew was what really mattered in life.

What’s the most important lesson you learned from a teacher?

To be honest, the question that leads the post is more interesting to me than the story, because it invites you to think. It’s so easy to fall into the trap, as a student, of seeing a teacher as a taskmaster or enforcer. With hindsight, though, things can become clearer.

What about me?

I was lucky enough to have many good teachers. My parents were two, but I suppose in the context of this question they don’t count because they had decades to influence me!

My grade 7 teacher was uncompromising but fair, and, with a fellow student so I didn’t feel too singled out, pushed me harder academically than I think I’d been pushed before. The years before and after were a blur for me, and I find little inspiration in them. But I can distinctly remember being set hard trigonometry problems, in a corner of the classroom, and puzzling through them to reach the beautiful ‘aha’ moments that are such a reward when learning maths and a concept falls into place. I was never particularly big on maths, but being trusted to set up to a higher level, when so often I operated in an academic comfort zone, was a big step that really prepared me for the years to come.

My Geography teacher taught me a completely different lesson, and it has both good and bad sides, but was important nonetheless. She was young, and the class was boisterous at times – Geography was seen as a softer way of taking science than, say, Physics or Chemistry. I absolutely loved it, particularly weather. But it was nothing to do with Geography that stuck out in my mind. One was that I saw properly, for the first time, the challenges that a young teacher can face. In many ways it reminded me of watching someone, lesson after lesson, week after week, walking up a loose pile of stones, sometimes sliding backwards and always wrestling to keep a firm footing to move forward.

One day, we’d been set a multiple choice test, and I felt sure I had a certain answer correct. It was. But it was graded wrong. Two of the answers were, strictly, correct, but I had selected the wrong correct one, according to the textbook. I complained heartily, but was met with the response “it isn’t the most correct answer”. Reeling, I retreated, but it taught me one very important thing: how inappropriate it is to force someone to adopt a predetermined answer as their own (a tactic employed by oh so many aggressive talk show hosts). I was never a fan of English in high school, but as an avid reader and occasionally keen writer, that lesson sticks in my mind as a time when the nuance and meaning of words were stripped away into an unneccessary, binary choice.

Hmmm. Or is this all post-hoc layering of meaning onto arbitrary events?

Anyway, what about you? Can you remember your teachers? Did they inspire you with their approach, or give you a hard knock you needed?

In other news, London.

And then, because pointing to excellent bits of gold on the internet is easier than producing it, have a look at Palestine through the lens of Andy Spyra. Brilliant imagery.

Categories: communication, photos, Random Links, Thoughts | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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