June 30, 2010 by Willy Cardoso
Firstly a message to my readers, friends, PLN…
This series I’m writing is many times a think-out-loud exercise in my process of formulating my teaching philosophy, and a way to share some of the things that I have learnt which have had great impact on my life not only as a teacher, but as a person. I open it to discussion because I strongly feel that I can learn even more by talking to others. It’s great to find like-minded people, and it’s also very special when some others critically disagree.
I kindly invite you to respond to these writings somehow. It can be a simple thumbs up/down, an external link to related subjects or a kilometric observation on how wrong I am. It’s all up to you!
Watch your mouth!
However improbable you might think this is (or not), I’ve heard many times teachers saying:
“This student will never learn”
And things like that, which I don’t feel like listing here.
When I listen to such absurd statements, I can only make two remarks, and they usually depend firstly on the kind of relationship I have with the person who says it, and secondly on my mood.
“If you think so, you should stop teaching him right now”
“Maybe this student will never learn by the way you want to teach him, maybe if you change your teaching, he’ll learn”
One of the most important things I learned on becoming a teacher is that I should always have and show an unconditional positive regard for the person who trusted in me, and gave me the unique opportunity, to participate in and facilitate his learning.
This genuine acceptance is devoid of possessiveness and judgment. In other words, this positive feeling the teacher will have is not influenced by the learner’s variability in attitudes and motivation, because the teacher will accept him for what he is, or better, for what his is becoming.
Becoming is a key word in this series.
Once I acknowledge every person in a learning relationship is in a process of becoming, that is, in a dynamic process, open to changes, and thus of unpredictable behavior; I’ll soften the downsides of high expectations and evaluations. I’ll also allow this learner to develop in a more self-directed fashion, with autonomy.
Getting it off my chest
It’s undeniable that everyone is capable of personal growth. The problem is that growth in any aspect, has been standardized and tested by weedy stakeholders. Health, good fortune, faith, well-being are measured. Language proficiency is X, competence is Y and achievement is Z, what are these words anyway? These things contaminate education and drive interpersonal/helping/learning relationships out of the classroom. Unconditional positive regard gets pretty damn difficult to achieve because teachers don’t want those deadbeats, bullies and unruly brats to disturb the objectives of their curriculum, so it’s easier to avoid them, after all teachers are there to teach, right? Ha…
Send them in to my class then. I don’t know if I can teach what others expect them to know, probably not; but by accepting them as they come, I’m sure they’ll learn something, something that matters to them at that moment, something that will lead to ______ (Who knows?).
Really, it’s too farfetched to believe that learning is linear and that it can be predicted.
Forget teaching, focus on learning.