Borys Bradel's Blog

The difficulties of teaching

Tags: teaching, learning, blogs May 29, 2008    

I ran across a very interesting article on the website of a magazine that I've never even heard of: the Atlantic. The article, In the Basement of the Ivory Tower, is from an instructor at a college and illustrates why teaching can be very painful. He describes having to teach and fail students who have no hope in passing. There are many students who want to be rewarded just for trying something, and society is pushing them on. Unfortunately in many endeavours, achievement can only come after a great deal of effort. There are students who do not realize how much effort is involved. Furthermore, these same students wall themselves up and stop learning.

The article nicely shows that teaching can be very painful because teaching requires students to want to learn, be ready to put in the effort to learn, and figure out the best way to approach learning. Yet the teacher has no control over whether the students do all of these. Many students do not want to learn, they just want to do the minimum amount of work, pass, and get a piece of paper that will allow them to get a good job. And that makes teaching very depressing. The only way that I found to deal with the problem is to distance myself from whether students are learning or not and still try my best to help students out.

Teaching is different from work at a company because in work an employee is responsible whether something is done or not, while in school, a teacher is responsible for whether a person becomes more educated or not. Teaching is also different from practicing medicine because usually doctors have a lot of control over their patients and teachers have little control over their students.

P.S. a good online source about teaching is a draft in progress called Educational Psychology.

Copyright © 2008 Borys Bradel. All rights reserved. This post is only my possibly incorrect opinion.

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