The latin word for ‘ educate’ – educare- means ‘ rearing, which in turn stems from ‘ educere’,
meaning ‘ to lead/ pull out.
Education is much more than ‘ just ‘ teaching. It involves passion, inspiration, and the ability to motivate.
Anyone who has seen films like ‘ History Boys’ or ‘ Dead Poets Society’ knows what I am talking about. The teachers depicted combine all the aforementioned , but also another essential ingredient: Great teachers are genuinely interested in and concerned with the individual.
If you are made to feel like a number in a classroom, chances are that you won’t be inspired or motivated. If it is obvious that your teacher follows strict curriculum guidelines which don’t leave much room for true critical thinking and certainly don’t reward thinking ‘ outside the box’, then it is unlikely students will pursue a subject outside the classroom.
Great educators have the ability to reach a student by encouraging individual, critical thinking, by making a student believe that his opinions matter. Great educators don’t measure success merely by statistical achievement. Success is recognized on the individual level, ie the best educators play on the strength of each person.
Clearly there is a lack of teachers of this caliber around. Most enter the profession not as a matter of vocation, but for all kinds of other reasons. ( who wouldn’t want all those holidays)
Even teachers who start of full of idealism soon find out that teaching a class room full of 15 year olds English is , in terms of stress level, up there with divorce.
The problem lies not with the students or indeed the teachers, but with the school system itself. More and more do teachers have to deal with red tape, more and more restrictions and guidelines are put in place by people who run the education system like a business.
heads of schools are under constant pressure to meet certain criteria and to gain a high rating in the national school register by producing as many good ‘ results’ ie students with high grades,as possible.
Universities have started to complain that each year the overall level of ability decreases. One problem is that students lack the ability to think ‘ outside the box’, to construct coherent arguments, to create their own knowledge .
The situation is getting worse with each year, but to be a great educator one needs a certain amount of freedom and liberty, which does not sit well with ‘ system’ and ‘ management’.
Currently there is little room for inspiration in classrooms, and certainly the number of school drop out reflects how little motivation there is. Teachers themselves cannot be motivated if their style of teaching as well as what is taught has to fit into a prescribed, tight framework.
To encourage true education and entice back inspired teachers , schools have to be run from within , by those who are at the core of teaching, not by bureaucrats and politicians.
A good teacher can make a huge difference !