Teaching is not so Noble

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Different Point of View

“Teachers change the world, one child, at a time,” so the saying goes. If I go by the way teachers have changed my kids, then God help us all! Nobody said that the change has to be for the better; it could also be for the worse. My wife and I are seeing this worse unfold in front of our very own eyes and there’s no teacher in sight—literally. Zoom meetings don’t count.

There are two kinds of teachers, as I am sure most of you already know. There are those that are passionate about teaching and truly believe that they make a difference. Teaching is their calling, and they answer it with zest and conviction. My high school English teacher was one such teacher, Mr. Thomas McComas. He is the one who practically changed my life—for better. He taught me how to read properly, write effectively, and communicate well. I no longer forget any of his teaching thingamajigs.

My Math teacher was the other teacher who gave me an equally solid education. Sadly, I don’t remember his name, but I can calculate my senior citizen discount without a calculator at any car wash in town, thanks to his teachings. I may not remember the Quadratic Formula, whatever the heck that may be, but I can add my monthly bills without using a computer.

Between the two of them, I learned the three “Rs”—reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. Yes, there are no points for proper spelling, but they both helped me cover my basics of education and I will forever be thankful to them.

The other kind of teachers are those that never really wanted to become a teacher in the first place, but chose to become one because they failed in their original major of study, or couldn’t even decide what to study in the first place, and said, hey I’ll just become a teacher. These are the teachers that spend most of their class time showing videos, directing students to some websites to pass the time, use computer games as teaching devices, or just put a sheet on the projector and tell the students to copy it and study it on their own. They don’t teach; they just babysit. They keep the students entertained but students learn nothing. Students pass with flying colors because these teachers give them high marks just for being cooperative.

With my luck, these are the teachers that my kids end up with and I am the proud father of kids with diplomas but no education. A teacher has to know how to teach, not just know the subject matter and use digital templates as a substitute for teaching. Kids don’t learn from ink on paper, or pixels on a screen. They learn from an actual teacher. Someone who would know where they are stuck, what is causing the confusion, and how to clarify the subject for each kid using a technique that would fit that student’s understanding.

Now there is a third kind of teacher. This teacher has no face. This teacher has no soul. This teacher does not even have any training to be a teacher. It is nothing but a simulation, put together by people who may or may not know how to teach. The interface is two dimensional and bland. There is no interaction between the teacher and the students. There is no two-way communication. Just plain if-then-else choices made by people sitting in foreign lands, with zero understanding of a kid’s ability to learn from inanimate objects; with no way to hold a kid’s attention, especially those that have a deficit of attention in the first place.

Our politicians and teachers’ unions are using this pandemic as an excuse to carry out a huge social experiment. We, as the parents, and our kids, as the students, are the guinea pigs. Our kids sit at home, tied to their screens, while human teachers bombard them with meaningless assignments, just to keep them busy. Kids know how to cheat and get the answers to these assignments using the same technology being used as a substitute for the real teaching.

This is not teaching. Our kids are not learning. We, as a nation, are poorer for that. Our kids were already behind a large part of the world in education. Now, they’ll probably be at the bottom of the list. The best and the brightest minds will not be coming from amongst us. They’ll be coming from outside and there’s no wall we can build that will be big enough to change that.

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