Teaching with HEART
Surveys done by educational researchers in the field of social-emotional well-being indicate that students want to succeed at school.
Modern education facilities are preferred, but teaching with heart is more important. Bangladeshi girls attend a class in an old building in a village in Mithakhali, Bagerhat, Bangladesh, Jan 5. According to the Department of Primary Education, some 200,000 teachers educate close to 19 million students in about 38,000 government primary schools countrywide in Bangladesh. EPA/ABIR ABDULLAH
They want to avoid illicit drugs and bad company, attend all their classes and be on time, make teachers and parents proud of their accomplishments, and respect their elders, and they despise delinquent behaviour in others.
Most importantly, every student surveyed expressed a genuine desire to get good grades.
These are what they said they want. However, the picture we see in schools is different. Why? Research further indicates that most students get distracted from their inner conviction of what they should and should not do at school by how they are treated.
Students who do not find learning meaningful will eventually be put off by schooling and may start engaging in unhealthy behaviours. They may do this because they feel that school is being forced upon them.
To reduce the effect of cognitive dissonance (a phenomenon when one behaves contrary to what he/she thinks and feels, causing intense disturbance in thinking and behaviour), they convince themselves that if they don't go to school to study, they would do so for some other reasons.
Most often, the reasons are counterproductive and, sometimes, damaging to life and future.
This is why teachers need to take their jobs seriously. Teaching is not merely passing down information. It is passing down information to humans who yearn to become better, possibly the best.
Every time I see a Hollywood actor being anointed by a fellow "wise" character as the "chosen one", I think of teachers having to similarly anoint each and every child, on a daily basis.
Each student is chosen to do something important in life. Teachers need to look beyond lesson delivery to the immense possibilities and potential of every child.
Lessons taught from this point of view will not just inform students, but inspire them to continue nurturing their quest for knowledge and practical wisdom.
Belief affects practice
Most teachers do not think this way. Many are comfortable continuing in their belief that only a few are destined to greatness; others are satisfied with a mediocre, if not shoddier, future. As long as teachers view students this way, schools will continue producing ill-adjusted individuals who are confused about life and everything they hold dear.
Worldwide, many students experience dissatisfaction and grow to dislike learning because of emotional conflicts and frustrations.
In other words, students fail not because they lack intelligence, but because they choose to rebel against a system that do not cater to their emotional as well as cognitive needs.
Obviously, when a teacher thinks that only a few would eventually succeed, he would invest most of his energy and time on these students, and knowingly or unknowingly neglect the rest.
If students are not cognitively challenged, they become bored, and this affects their emotional senses, and soon they are spiralling downwards at a speed no one could imagine.
Change we need
If we continue this way, we would have a world that is inhabited by predominantly insensitive, irresponsible and selfish individuals and a handful of brilliant individuals who will constantly try to protect themselves from the former. That is not the aim of education. Education is supposed to make everyone productive and happy. It is supposed to help us celebrate shared values and to appreciate others.
The way we teach today determines the kind of world we would have in the future. Teachers do not teach for students to pass tests, but to enable them to become better humans.
As the famous 20th-century educator Dr Haim Gnott put it, "Fish swim, birds fly and people feel." Our primary duty, then, is to teach with heart.
Dr Edward Roy Krishnan is the director of studies at Kent Institute of Business & Technology (Thailand) and director of Strategic Planning & Development at Wells International School. He also lectures in the Graduate School of Psychology, Assumption University. He can be contacted at email@example.com . To access additional articles by him, visit http://www.affectiveteaching.com.
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