It is easy sometimes to take teachers for granted. As children, they are the gatekeepers, and sometimes our antagonists! But a good teacher can make the difference between paying attention and developing a complete apathy toward the educational process.
We all remember our teachers, whether fondly or otherwise. We tell stories with old classmates that recollect their personalities, foibles and strange habits or techniques. Teachers are seen by children principally as authority figures, but what is important to remember is that they are one of the main sources of learning inside a child’s life outside of the parents themselves.
Teachers have to impart knowledge on a specialist subject, explained in terms the target age group will absorb easily, to twenty, thirty or more children at a time, maintain their interest of the average child long enough for the information to stick, and all this before the spectre of disobedience and disruption that inevitably arises in such environments.
If the teacher is good at their job, if they can juggle the art of discipline with that of teaching itself, then the result can be children that are actively engaged with their studies, rather than merely settling for ‘surviving’ their time at school. After all, depending on the subject and the people studying it, many traditional school subjects should be rife with interesting and vibrant knowledge. A good teacher will bring these to the fore in order to really capture the attention of a young mind.
Equally important in a teacher’s qualities is a desire to teach. While this may seem like a redundant thing to point out, it is one of the most singular points to look for in a truly great teacher. After all, if a teacher does not enjoy the process, or worse, dislikes or is uncomfortable working with children, this will show through, and be made apparent through an over-emphasis on discipline, and/or mechanical, workmanlike teaching processes that either lose the attention of the children completely, or even alienate them altogether, cementing the teacher’s position as ‘the bad guy’.
Great teachers will constantly innovate, looking for new ways to stimulate the minds of their students. They look for new ways to present the information in forms that will gel with the myriad styles of learning they will be charged with imbuing with knowledge. And they care about those students’ personal as well as academic welfare, which strengthens the student-teacher relationship, and consequently enriches the learning process.
Good teachers, the one we learnt from, leave a lasting impression on a young mind. These years and learning experiences are formative, and cannot be underestimated. It is therefore important, if not essential that we do not take such figures for granted. Although in adult years we can still employ the use of home study courses for our learning needs, there is really no substitute for those early years of absorbing information without distraction, and we need someone trustworthy at the gate.