Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Is it more important to be a good teacher, or be a good student?

Is it more important to be a good teacher, or be a good student?

The answer to the question of whether it is more important to be a good teacher or be a good student depends upon who is answering the question.  A teacher would argue that it is more important to be a good student.  On the other hand, a student would probably reply that it is more important to be a good teacher, while a parent might think that both are of equal importance: being a good teacher, and being a good student.  All three positions will be covered in this essay.

Teachers play a vital role in the shaping of young minds, first at school and then later at university.  Good teaching by well trained teachers is probably one of the most influential factors in the forming of well educated people.  Even adults who left school twenty years ago can still remember the teachers they admired and who taught them the most valuable lessons in life.

If teachers do not do their jobs properly, their students will lose the only chance they have to do well in certain subject areas.  In my own school life I thought maths was taught badly and consequently I hated the subject and was never good at it at school.  Even now, many years after leaving school I am still quite poor at solving mathematical problems.

On the other hand, if a teacher is devoted to his or her profession, and teaches her subject well, she can encourage her students to do well and to actually enjoy their lessons.  My own English teacher, a man we used to call 'Fez', Mr Radcliffe, taught us to understand the beauty of the English language, and then to use it ourselves in our own written work, and years later I feel I owe a lot to that man for my love of my own language.

Not everybody would fully agree with the position outlined above, however.  Some would say that it is the student who should be diligent, that it is up to the student to learn his or her subjects.  Studying at an English university is often a shock for new students recently arriving from their High School environments.  At university, lecturers, professors and teachers actively encourage students to be individuals, to think for themselves and to get through their coursework with a minimum of  input from the teacher.  I would say that this is beneficial in nine out of ten cases.  Students quickly learn to think for themselves and form their own opinions in such a learning environment.

Spoon feeding students can have less than beneficial effects upon their intellectual development.  Such is the case in many countries of the world in which students are taught to learn by rote rather than by thinking creatively for themselves.  It is only when such student leave their classrooms that they realize that life demands a large amount of creative thinking.

Again, people who have been taught by teachers who leave their students to work things out rather than telling them the answers immediately, are often better able to cope with the many confusing problems and issues that come up in life.

Of course, being taught badly by teachers who don't take their duties and their work seriously can have very detrimental effects upon students, and teaching students who are obviously not interested or who are badly behaved can have a bad effect on teachers.  Teachers in England are leaving the profession in droves for just that problem; having to teach badly behaved students.

For those teachers who have good students and who themselves teach well, life is made better and everyone benefits.  Teachers enjoy their work and find it fulfilling, and students find lessons both enjoyable and interesting, and hence learn and pass examinations at the end and go on to university.

In conclusion,  it is perhaps equally important that both teacher and student take their responsibilities seriously.  The effects of having good teachers comes out in the pass rates at schools and universities, and the effect of having good students comes out in society generally.  Having a good education is important to everybody.
Robert L. Fielding


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home