Frustrating teaching and listening to our kids

Frustrated doesn’t really describe it! My friend is seething.

That’s because she’s spent some tedious hours stuck listening to a guy who is supposed to be delivering a course on computers for business. Instead he’s been indulging in the sound of his own voice, his own anecdotes and his own ego.

“Now I know how the kids in school feel,” she ranted. “It’s hell being stuck listening to someone who is not sticking to the subject and waffling on about pointless trivia that’s off topic; it’s driven me nuts. I haven’t learnt anything new.”

I bet it drives children nuts too – although they of course are not allowed to have an opinion on such things!

What made it worse was that she’d had a taste of how it could be. Part of the course was delivered by a brilliant tutor, who was right on topic throughout, who didn’t fill time with irrelevant tangents and selling himself, who responded to the learners requirements.

“But today’s guy today was gruesome!” She went on.

“He kept asking patronising questions for something he already had answers for, making us kind of guess when I wanted to shout ‘just give us the bloody information’. He didn’t seem to be aware of our irritation or whether we were getting a good experience from him, he was so in love with his own agenda. I have complete sympathy with the kids in school. Why should they put up with idiots like him?”

Why indeed! It also struck me as I listened that most of us are prepared to listen to an adult friend ranting about a tutor on an adult learning course, yet we’re not prepared to take seriously the fact that some kids are enduring the same thing.

The thing about qualifying teachers is this; getting a degree doesn’t make you a good one.

A good one starts with a good person. A person who cares about learners more than themselves – this guy didn’t seem to. A person who can give up their own ego for their learners’ needs – this guy didn’t do that either. Who can identify needs which are different from their own, who can put themselves in others’ shoes, who are empathetic towards others’ lack of knowledge rather than patronising. And who understand that they are there for the learners, not for their own glory.

But how do you qualify for that? It’s less about academics and more about being human.

Her final remark on the subject:

“I think every teacher should be made to sit through the same teaching as the kids do on a regular basis and see how mind-numbing some of it is. Just imagine enduring that day after day for ten years.”

Yea – just imagine! Imagine what some kids go through in schools. I know we have many brilliant and inspiring teachers doing a very tough job and much of what they’re required to deliver is already boring and not their fault. They’re at the mercy of the system both training wise and in classrooms. But kids know who can make good of it – or not!

And I find it hard to understand why parents expect their children to tolerate it and don’t credit them with knowing which are which.

For, just like my friend, they usually do!

9 thoughts on “Frustrating teaching and listening to our kids

  1. Interesting reading, I’m an English teacher in a secondary school and I can assure you that chalk and talk doesn’t exist where I teach. We look at sections of learning, modelling, practise, self assessment and teacher assessment – we assess through quizzes, games and pupil discussion. We are rated good with outstanding teaching……..posh suburban comp? No, we’re an inner city PRU

  2. reading this made my mind instantly jump to my school. their old recruitment policy seemed to be to hire the first applicant with at least a 2.2 that came through the door. but you’re absolutely right – listening to young people about who’s teaching them does a world of good.! ever since they let us sixth form students interview candidates too, the quality of teaching has sky-rocketed.!

    • A really valuable comment Ellen and great to hear from your side of the fence! Thanks so much for taking the time to be here and chip in! Much appreciated! All the best. x

  3. I worked in a high school for a number of years and during that time I saw newly qualified teachers coming and going. I remember one who was terrified to stand and teach but she was a lovely person and despite having some teething problems,she turned into a great teacher. The children enjoyed being in her presence and she flourished. I also saw the exact opposite, teachers who didn’t care about the children. In fairness some of them were so young that they were more concerned with what they would be wearing on a night out than preparing for a lesson or helping a child in need. It saddens me to know that some teachers just don’t care and spend the lessons wishing that the bell would ring as much as the children in the classroom with them.
    In good conscience I could not play good teacher/bad teacher roulette with my own children – they only get one education.

    Thanks for the post.

  4. Here in the States it’s “day after day for 13 years.” Something about that statement gave me the chills. It was almost like I was reading about abuse. That seems a bit dramatic I suppose. I can’t quite put my finger on why it made me so uncomfortable. Whatever the reason, it’s not something I want to do to my children.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s