Teachers of the New Age

Apr 24 , 2021
By Kidist Yidnekachew

Teachers, even though underrated, play an important and undeniable role in shaping generations. Some join the profession out of convenience while others do so out of passion. The latter are always making sure their teaching style matches that of their students' learning. They take the time to know their needs and pay close attention to their character to design the best way of instilling knowledge.

There is no such thing as a lazy student; just an unmotivated one who has not yet found the right teacher. Even the most underperforming students improve under the right guidance.

One such teacher was a person I met over the weekend. She has been teaching for three decades. She loves her job and aspires to educate. She told me how students these days were not like those in the old days or even a few years back. She was surprised to find students in the fourth grade that could not even read, not even in their native language. This shows that something is wrong with the education system and that we are not doing our jobs well, especially in how children are taught.

I share her frustration. There are students in the eighth grade that cannot differentiate present tense from past tense. This includes students in private schools. No doubt, speaking English on its own is not a measure of a person’s intelligence. But when pretty much every subject is taught in English, speaking and writing it well makes a huge difference. Many people get prominent positions simply on the basis that they are fluent in the language.

Until this day, I remember my fourth-grade English teacher - she, among others, was the one who helped me improve my English. Good teachers teach us and give us the confidence to speak up without fear and to own it when we make mistakes.

Here, there is a decided advantage of older generations over younger ones. The former went to college better equipped with knowledge than the current generation, who have been losing out as schools proliferated but quality declined by a near equal amount. It has gotten to a point where a degree these days is nearly just a worthless piece of paper.

We are overdue for a different approach. The current school the teacher I met is employed at focuses on life skills in an integrated manner. For instance, they milk a cow in their school, boil the milk, and drink it.

But since they live in a city, what is the point in teaching them how to milk a cow when they will likely not have to in the real world?

Knowing where the milk comes from, seeing it firsthand and doing it themselves fulfills their curiosity. Children tend to remember an answer to a question when they have looked for it themselves instead of when teachers hand it to them.

Furthermore, with the help of a chef, the students at the school cook their own food and clean their tables after they have finished eating. They are also allowed to explore their artistic and creative sides freely.

These life skills will help them become well-rounded individuals when they grow up. The teacher gave me an example of the son of a friend, who moved to the United States and could not manage to live independently as he did not know how to carry out any household chores.

This is a cultural problem where young boys are only encouraged to focus on their studies and not get involved in house chores, as opposed to women, especially in rural areas. But it is also partly due to an education system overly reliant on rote learning and taking very little inspiration from liberal arts education.

PUBLISHED ON Apr 24,2021 [ VOL 22 , NO 1095]

Kidist Yidnekachew is interested in art, human nature and behaviour. She has studied psychology, journalism and communications and can be reached at (kaymina21@gmail.com)

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