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Thursday, December 15, 2011

The scandal in education is that every time when you teach something, you deprive a child of the pleasure and benefit of discovery . . .

Today I received a response to a job inquiry in Thailand as a teacher. I was given this quote and asked to write a very short response, presumably to test my English skills. I actually found it quite a useful way of screening potential teachers. See the quote and my thoughts below.

The scandal in education is that every time when you teach something, you deprive a child of the pleasure and benefit of discovery . . .

Take a moment and reflect on the above statement. What images does it generate in your mind as you reflect on your own personal educational experiences?

By spending a few moments reflecting on your relationship with the education process, you can more clearly understand the implications of the statement above. There is a distinct difference in exploring your own thoughts versus having a pragmatic and systematic transfer of information from teacher to student. Of course I am not saying that there is no role for teachers in this world; only that the role of the teacher may be better fulfilled if it is thought of as “one who facilitates learning.”

I am a teacher. I have taught primary school age students English in Busan, South Korea for the last two years. Sometimes the requirements were that a rigid system was used to hopefully help students increase their English proficiency. Other times I used crafts, games, activities, acting lessons, role plays, situational humor, and art as a means to facilitate the learning of English. Without fail, the activities that were non-traditional were more engaging for both my students and me. So while my title may be teacher, I went to work with the intent of engaging and having fun. I was paid to be a teacher, but more often than not, learning was something that my students did by default. The real value in my job was being able to provide as many different forms of engagement as possible to my students.  To be a generator of ideas.

My personality in my non work life does not differ from my personality in the classroom. Whether it is conversations with friends, blog posts about cultural differences we experience when we travel the world, or spending time creating a book of poetry, my first aim is always to facilitate the generation of ideas in others. That being said, I also cherish the times that I am able to learn and discover something new about myself by shifting my perspective and seeing the world through the eyes of others.

I may not always hold the title of Teacher in my life, but I will always play the role. And if you are an educator, remember the reasons that you wanted to teach. Remember the joy of discovery. Remember that learning happens every day in many forms. And use this reflection as an opportunity to engage with your students. They deserve it.

Marcus Williams
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