RAD Culture Zone

Our culture, our passion, our inspiration

Are we learning yet?

Image courtesy of [Vlado] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of [Vlado] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you keep doing the same thing, you will not achieve a different outcome. Most of us have heard this statement in one form or another either via social media or from someone we know more intimately. Why is it then that no matter how many times we hear or read this statement, we keep on doing the same things….over and over….and over again and still expect a different outcome?

I don’t know about you, but for me boredom is an absolute passion killer of infinite proportion!

Back in the day, once upon a time, when I was still in primary school….in a few of my “lessons”  I filled pages of drawings and doodles while the teacher’s voice droned on and on in the background.

I could never quite understand why it was necessary for a teacher to read from a text book when I could read for myself. What was the point of that other than to put me to sleep? Furiously I would wait for the class to be doing something, anything that would relieve the boredom and the resentment I began to feel towards these particular teachers who demanded nothing, expected nothing other than I pass their subject by regurgitating the content of the text book.

Did I learn anything from them? I most certainly did! Boredom 101, how to doodle undetected in 5 easy steps and how to perform a lobotomy on my own brain…I am aware they were there but have no recollection of what they were supposed to be teaching, what their name was, what they looked like… as if they have become mere figments of my own imagination.

Let me not completely undervalue the grey teacher who I have comfortably obliterated leaving only scar tissue behind as a reminder. There must have been some learners with personalities different to mine who may have benefited from the repetitive nature of the text book read lessons.  It was not something we discussed, we simply accepted and dealt with each teacher in our own way.

Then, of course, there were the teachers who commanded your attention, who formed love hate relationships with their learners. The “you will learn from me whether you like my methods or not” types. They were the ones, despite the moments of utter distaste, mistrust and anger you felt towards them and “how can this person be allowed to teach children” who used intimidation or other such means to actually teach you something about the subject for which they had a passion. These teachers you remember. They taught you other lessons asides from the prescribed material. Life changing lessons. Some experiences are best left alone. I experienced many a conflicting emotion under the tutelage of these particular teachers, but boredom was not one of them. Can you remember teachers like this?

My masochistic fellow learners perhaps enjoyed having their back slapped or strong male fingers digging deeply between their rib-cages… not to mention pubescent bra-straps thwacked against tender skin while work was moderated. Just another day in the life of an 11 year old.

Finally, there was the teacher that was your ultimate teacher; the one that no matter how often you failed to comprehend was patient, kind and compassionate, but firm. You hung onto this teacher’s every word. You knew exactly what was expected of you. Lessons were engaging and fun. Opportunities to extend beyond the prescribed curriculum were encouraged. If you were really lucky the topic would move into forbidden territory. Quite something considering we were all being subjected to apartheid propaganda. You found yourself wanting to do your best, do extra work if it meant you could get an extra gold star. The guilt you felt when you knew you had not met expectations drove you onward. You were stimulated, challenged and excited. You felt you could do anything, be anyone….

To blazes with the grey teachers and the competent sadists….

And my point…. is to challenge teachers, parents (including myself) and other authority figures who engage with our children on a daily basis to really open our eyes and observe how they are responding to us. While we continue to evaluate them, how are they evaluating us? If we want to address the challenges experienced by our children, we are going to have to look for different ways of engaging them, particularly in the learning environment where each child is a unique soul with different needs and challenges.

I leave you all with this thought: The past belongs to us, what we do with it is our problem, the future belongs to our children, what we do now is going to create their past and how they choose to deal with their present.

How do you remember your teachers?  What advice would you give to teachers today?

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
― William Arthur Ward

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”
― Charles William Eliot

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