Stanna Wieclawska

EXCESS Lifestyle Magazine

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'Are students only as good as their teachers?'

Do we al hold a responsibility to teach our youth the 'correct/moral/ethical" view so lauded in the 'good old days', when we have so apparently failed ecologically, economically and ethically. How do we teach when we cannot lead by example?

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    Jan 7 2012: Ah, well, most of the time yes, and even worse than their teachers. From statistics point of view, it is reasonable to assume students are not better than their teachers. But if you are trying to motivate someone, it is usually best to stick to the contrary. Students who surpass their teachers owe it to their teachers too. For eg. if a student of 10 yrs of piano training learns from someone who has spent 40 yrs of his life in mastering it, the student is infact gaining 40 + 10 yrs of learning. So, barring the time-dependant growth of maturity, his level of expertise is positively highter than his mentor. Most of our failures arise when we sit and try to re-invent the wheel.. Instead of taking off from where history has left us, we go back in history and lament over it. Often 'lead by example' is not necessary. Personally, I think it is just an excuse we throw when others point us in the right direction. Mere logic and common sense will tell us what we must do. But our evlutionary response is to find an excuse and hide behind it. Yes, leading is inspiring and effective but not necessary. If theere is one thing that is different for current generation is the enormous freedom of choice not backed by adequate capacity to exercise or appreciate it. Most students who outshine their teachers are those who are proactive and highly motivated. For such students, excuses are unnecessary. As for the otherwise, carrot and stick is the only thing that seems to work.
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    Jan 9 2012: No but they are usually a little bit better or worse than their parents.
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    Jan 9 2012: Many thanks for all your comments. Putting this question out globally has given me a much broader view of a question I have posed many times. The title question is actually a colloquialism here in the Mediterranean where it is often used to excuse or explain a YOUTH's behaviour ie you cannot expect the person to behave any better as he has not been taught correctly in the past, be that from parents, peers or teachers. Thus stating that we as 'teachers' have failed our next generation. I find that I agree sometimes and disagree others. I try not to excuse poor behaviour however have seen and experienced many occassions where poor behaviour is a direct result of inadequate social, ethical or moral behavioural teaching. As you can see I am not limiting my question to the classroom :) Should we only lead by good example or is there hope that an equilibrium is reached where humans can learn existentialy?
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      Jan 9 2012: Stanna... the bitter truth is no one can change anybody.... You have to be the change that you want to see in others and this is the only way.... some moral values like honesty, sincerity, integrity, etc have to be practiced and not preached if one really wants the others to practice

      If you have to preach generosity you need to be a generous person first.... I would walk on a path which I feel how the world should be... if people like it they will follow ... if they don't like it at least I am happy that I am walking on the path that i like :)
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    Jan 7 2012: The very barrier comes when the concept of 'Teach' comes in the picture... why dont we instead allow the youth to 'LEARN' which is more important.

    The barrier in our educational system is created because there is a 'Teacher' who is morally, ethically, logically, etc is always correct.

    If we really want our children/ youth to understand things then they have to be given a 'Learning' atmosphere... where there is a 'Learning Facilitator' and not a Teacher..
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    Jan 6 2012: Students will always eclipse their teacher - sometimes it just takes longer, and the teacher is not usually around to see it.
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    Jan 6 2012: Students can potentially be much better than their teachers, if teaching is seen as recognising, facilitating and nurturing individual abilities.

    Teachers who just regurgitate a worn-out, inappropriate curriculum will be faced with under-achieving students, who are just taught to regurgitate those same facts in order to pass exams - that's it.

    Teaching students to achieve their own individual potential - to think and to respond to the world in their own unique way - takes teachers who also are allowed to be themselves and allowed to teach 'from the heart'.
  • Jan 5 2012: You are asking more than one question here. So let me begin with your headline question. Are students only as good as their teachers? Absolutely not. We can learn, and I know I have learned, from people who were not good teachers because if you have an interest and a curious mind, sometimes a simple suggestion to a new path of thought can take you miles from where your teacher left you. And, almost as importantly, maturity comes when we learn to learn from other people's mistakes.

    When we are mature enough to see some one else's mistakes and say, "see that didn't work, now I do not have to make that mistake" . We become able to learn in whole new ways.

    I often lament that humans have to start all over again every generation. But, I also hope that our growth as a species will be when it really does occur to us that we CAN learn from the mistakes of others and we really can do better. I teach by saying to my students, "This is what currently is. Understand what is and where it came from. Now, go do better." I believe firmly that they will.