Submitted by English Teacher... on 1 February, 2011 - 18:33
I am currently teaching English Literature at the high school level in Istanbul. In the past, I have taught in Canada, Croatia, Japan and Saudi Arabia. I have also worked in HR, Training and Development as well as general management. Aside from my formal education, I have completed advanced level standing with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research.
I hope you find my thoughts and blogs of some interest, and I hope to hear back from you with regards to the discussions which will follow in the coming days.
Let me begin with a statement which might be familiar to a number of us:
Trapped and bored - could it get any worse? I surveyed a number of students during the past years, asking them why they were de-motivated, not participating or uninterested overall. Listening with enthusiasm, I was able to collect a few useful pieces of information, some of which I will be looking at in greater detail in the coming days. Moreso, points which have had me thinking about solutions, my own performance in the classroom, and what colleagues have claimed to be victorious and successful classroom moments.
Okay - ...about boredom and so called imprisonment in a classroom. I asked students, and this is what they said. Below are 6 most common responses;
- "I don't understand what the teacher is talking about. She/He is using big words I don't understand, and going on and on..." Point of discussion: Losing them in the first few moments keeps them uninterested until the end...."
- "There is no excitement in the plain, boring, dry material we are supposed to learn." Point of discussion: How can we make archaic, seemingly boring material interesting and meaningful?
- "We are always doing the same old, same old, over and over again." Point of discussion: How can we bring more diversity and variety into lessons?
- "The games are boring. They think we are having fun, playing boring games.' Point of discussion: What classroom tactics work, and which are a time consuming, waste of time and effort?
- "The teacher doesn't understand us." Point of discussion: News flash! All of us were students at some point, and some of us are still studying something. We understand you... sometimes.
- "I don't need this for my future." Point of discussion: Maybe, but you do need the tools of analysing, reading, discussing, deciphering and other.
In general, I will try to empathise, by considering what it would be like to have so stay and engage in a seemingly painful, purposeless and boring performance, with no possibility of escape. Classrooms can often times be considered to consist of an audience and a performer whose job is to instigate dialogue, evoke thinking and a desire to share thoughts, pros and cons and suggestions. Does this mean teachers should go to acting school? Perhaps. Some do, and they say it has helped them along the way. Many haven't, yet are excellent in managing the classroom.
Some of the example considerations I will look at: Why would a grade 12 class be interested in ancient literature? Why would a prep class care about the vikings? Why would grade school children need to learn about famous people from our past? How and why would we connect seemingly archaic, necessary to learn material with real life?
To discuss these issues in greater detail, and come up with meaningful solutions, I invite you to join in and comment on this discussion in the coming days!