Being a good teacher is becoming increasingly tough. It’s even tougher when it comes to teaching modern day teenagers
Many tend to think being a teacher is the easiest of things one can do. They say teaching is the first thing to opt for when one is still not decided about his/her career path. There is an easy access to teaching and one just needs to have a willingness to do it. Want it, and it is available in schools that you find in every other street in your community. This is partly true, especially for those who teach just for the sake of teaching or make it a stepping stone to make a bigger leap into the career of their choice. It is, however, not as easy as it sounds if you want to adopt it as the profession of your life.
Being a good teacher is increasingly becoming tough. It is even tougher when it comes to teaching the modern day teenagers. There are new confrontations in classrooms every day and most of these confrontations concern not projects and assignments, but behavioral anomalies. Most of the modern day students are adamant and aggressive. Ranging from upper primary to undergraduate level, students tend to disregard teacher as ‘authority.’ They don’t entertain it when their teacher tells them what to do and what not to. They take it as interference in their freedom to learn. They prefer to be left free to do whatever they choose to even during the lectures. Some don’t even value the presence of teachers in their class and continue to display their disrespectful attitude towards the teachers. They don’t show any respect to their teachers. Instead, they misbehave with them. They view teachers merely as people who have been hired to assist them, and who live on the money paid by them. Anything, as simple as inquiring about assignments or chiding for disturbing the class, can trigger a verbal exchange between the teacher and the student. Consequently, the teacher has to suffer insult and humiliation.
Impatience and disobedience are the most visible behavioral deviations in modern day students. They have lost the patience of listening to their teachers. Time and again, they get diverted and you should keep reminding them. Even a forty or forty-five-minute lecture is too long for them to sit through. They begin to show the signs of disinterest shortly after the teacher start the delivery and it is clearly visible in their body language. Their facial expressions and emotive reactions clearly reveal that they are not enjoying what you are delivering. One of the most common and immediate reactions to this is they start dozing off right through the lecture. Some others react by creating distractions such as using their cell phones under their desks, whispering with each other or passing cheats to communicate.
Today’s students want shortcuts. They have no patience in listening to hour-long lectures to derive a short conclusion at the end. They don’t want to read the voluminous textbooks to find answers to a couple of questions they are confused about. They want readymade solutions to everything without working hard. Unlike students in the past who went to schools and colleges to gain knowledge, students in modern days go there to pass their tests. Even students pursuing their graduation courses want exam capsules. They are worried more about their grades than the amount of knowledge and skills their courses are likely to offer. Self-studies and research oriented readings are rare even among university students.
Amidst these odds and difficulties, being an effective teacher is challenging. “A mediocre teacher tells, a good teacher displays and a successful teacher motivates,” goes the saying. But it’s even tougher to become a motivator. With the advent of new pedagogical dimensions, teaching has now gained a new definition. If a teacher fails to keep pace with these changing contexts, he/she is likely to fail. Unlike in the past, only being academically sound does not attribute to being a good and successful teacher today. Teaching has gone beyond the text books in terms of both form and content. Syllabus and the text books are now only the means, not the ends. So, only teachers who can transcend this traditional boundary and teach their students the values of life are likely to get better appreciation. And this is easier said than done.
Modern day classrooms are not merely the groups of passive listeners. They are neither the groups of inquisitive knowledge seekers and creative enthusiasts. They appear to be more like a group of troublemakers who care more about their rights than their duties. Having to cope up with such aggressive and irresponsible mass of youths, teaching has been as tough as walking on a razor’s edge. A modern day teacher, therefore, has to play a number of roles at the same time. He/she is a teacher, a friend, a psychiatrist, a counselor, an actor, a joker and most importantly a good human being, the last of which is sometimes the most difficult thing to prove.
The author is a lecturer of English language and literature based in Kathmandu