What are you teaching our children?

I work at a teaching center, putting me in a position where I can easily spot the issues that plague the children who come in…

Even here at an extracurricular tutoring center, many of them don’t get the attention they need, and there are various reasons for that. They’re shy and don’t speak up, we sometimes lack a number of people to attend to the children during rush/busy hours, family/learning issues, etc. etc. The list really does go on and on.

Let me put it this way: a majority of the teachers focus on the superficial problem, instead of delving deeper into the why and how. I can’t tell you how sick I am of watching teachers simply giving answers to the children, instead of encouraging critical thinking and mapping out a solution map to serve as a guide or base for future similar issues.

Today, a girl came up to me with a few math questions she was having trouble with, and I instructed her to redo the problems on a separate sheet of paper, then bring it all up to me for me to check. I promised her that if there were further issues, we would work it out together. She followed my instructions and without working the problem out for her, I simply went over every step she wrote down and discussed the areas where she made mistakes. It’s not that hard.

She realized her mistakes quickly, and she wasn’t hesitant to ask me why and she quickly worked out the how after the second problem.

It’s not just about rereading a paragraph or redoing a problem; it’s about looking for signs, at the finer details, and asking the right questions to gently guide them in the general direction.

Right now, I’ve got only two words for you: incompetent teachers (will fuck people up).

The most important thing we’re supposed to teach them is how to find answers, and not memorize answers from old packets and transfer them onto new packets. If I were a student, I’d beg my parents to let me leave, because tedious work + uncaring teachers = all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. (In my experience, boredom seldom leads to any good.)

Sigh. Maybe I’m just too picky? Maybe it’s something we can’t ever change?

I don’t know… I don’t know, man.

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5 thoughts on “What are you teaching our children?

  1. PW says:

    良いよ。教育は良いよ。ないなら、人ははっきり思考出来るとそれを考える人まったくいない。大学もこそ。

    • うん、教育は大事に扱いされないと社会は崩れる。今のアメリカを見て、教育の重要さを感じられない人ってバカなんだよな。

      • PW says:

        まじでね、大学授業中は、先生こそ、誤った情報を学生に伝えてくれて、それは、子どもさえ知ることなのに、先生に言われてまじで切れて完全に飽きてるね。

  2. I don’t now how it is in the US (I’m assuming you’re from the US :-) ), in France a teacher has a class of roughly 30 children (25 in kindergarten). Let’s assume that you want a life outside the workplace (kids, husbands, friends, and maybe a passion or two if that’s not too far fetched). Giving that kind of attention you’re describing to each kids is impossible. The only way would be to lower drastically the ratio kids/teacher.

    • First of all, thank you for your comment!

      And yes, you’re absolutely right. I would not complain, if not for the fact that at the center I work at, the teachers talk loudly about non-work related topics, and become a nuisance to the students. I should’ve been more specific: I am aiming the majority of this post towards my coworkers, who don’t provide the students with that they need even though the teachers have plenty of time.

      As for primary education, I understand that there’s only so much you can do within a school day, and of course, very few people will sacrifice a large portion of their time when work is already stressful, not to mention the fact that not all parents respond well to advice or constructive criticism.

      But I haven’t had great experiences with elementary school teachers. I remember my 4th grade teacher very well; he sat at the back of class and clicked away on the computer for the majority of the school days, and I deeply regret not filing a complaint about that. Fourth grade was mostly self-study, which I do not believe is what fourth grade should be. During fifth grade, a first grade teacher made me sit through my remaining lunch period because she saw me chasing a younger child in the basketball court, and called me in, even though we were all playing around, and he had whipped me with his jacket (and it hurt). She then refused to hear me out, didn’t respond to anything I said… to this day, I still remember sitting on a chair, trembling and trying my best not to cry because I was so scared, and so sorry, even though now that I think about it, I had nothing to be sorry about. Same grade, my teacher singled me out and called me a liar because I was too embarrassed to say that I was playing footsies with my friend sitting opposite from me.

      I’m rather biased, but in the elementary schools I’ve been to, I feel that the teachers treat the students as unintelligent beings, and that’s where I think they’re very, very wrong. Kids are not unintelligent – they’re much more responsive than we are normally, and I always cringe when I hear some of my coworkers speak to kids with what I call a “cooing voice.”

      Of course, very few, if not none, teachers can give the attention that I described in the original post, but teachers making an effort to walk around and give a little bit of feedback to the students can really help in the long run. The one-on-one help with the girl is different, but there’s easily 20-25 students in my tutoring center (with 6 other teachers, and 4 are mainly graders, but can’t be compared to a one-two-30-students setting, of course), and only 3 of them choose to walk around and check in with the students; the others just sit there and talk.

      I’m really sorry for this long post, and if I came across as defensive. I probably was, a little bit, and I am most definitely biased. But a child came to me last week, crying with occasional sobs, about how he didn’t know how to do his homework. There was a large number of mistakes on the returned papers, yet the teachers who graded it didn’t seem to even care. My heart really broke…even when he stopped crying, there were still periodic hiccups.

      He deserved better. They all deserve better.

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