Daily Prompt: How not to teach

Road to Solothurn 16.08 (9)

Just because you know the material, it does not make you an expert on passing on your knowledge to others. We once had a history teacher in the school. She was very original, a communst and would always give us a few pointers in her right direction. It was the time of the Cuba crisis when Kennedy and Chruschov were in disagreement. However, no bombs were dropped and everyone went home in peace. Our history teacher gave up teaching history on that day. She was trying to make history by informing us all what an idiot Mr. Kennedy was risking world peace, stupid man etc. etc.

We girls in the class, aged 13-14, loved that lesson. We learned nothing, had a good laugh afterwards, and the history books were not even opened. Otherwise she had a super system of teaching. “Open your books at page ……, and make notes” and then she would be marking papers or whatever teachers did, we would be making notes, and when the bell rang she left the clasroom. They were super lessons – for her. The funny thing was when i took my final exam I passed, although I must admit thanks to intensive learning by heart from the book and coincidentally learning the right thing. It was economic history as they did not have enough books for everyone to learn political history. Whilst many were discovering the cause for various british wars, we were learning how the manor was organised with crop roataion in the dark ages and all about the corn laws. Today I have not got a clue.

I was a teacher once at one stage in my life. Being a young mother and not having time during the day I began to work at the local evening school teaching english. At the time No. 2 son was on its way, so I did it all with a bump. However, it was fun, a mixed group of housewives and people going on holiday to english speaking countries. I did not have a clue about teaching, only the englih language, but speaking english is not the same as imparting your knowledge to others. Teachers learn how to do that. I was something I learned with my classes. I got on OK with the ladies in the course, they were not fussy and more or less let them decide what they wanted to learn, but I was unqualified. I think even my basic knowledge of english grammar was on unsteady legs. However we all survived and baby bump No. 2 was produced with no problems when I had finished my teaching episode.

Mr. Swiss now and again has to teach me things, mainly to do with the Swiss way of life: things like tax forms or how to drive a car with your husband. It is fantastic to hear what he knows, what he can do, but I am not so sure he was teaching me, it was more like showing me how good he could do it and I must say, I admired his knowledge. He was perfect in knowledge, but somehow his teaching qualities were not exactly perfect.

No, teachers are not born teachers, they have to know how to impart their knowledge on their victims and that is not easy.

Daily Prompt: How not to teach

10 thoughts on “Daily Prompt: How not to teach

  1. Crop rotation in the middle ages could have been a great subject … if you were studying medieval history. It sounds like you had a teacher who wasn’t built for teaching high school. Maybe in college she’d have done better?

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    • I don’t know how she kept the job, but she had a strong character. She was one of the first women to join a ladies only club in the West End of London. Up to then the “clubs” were a mans world. I heard she died quite early and did not reach pension age at the school.

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  2. I was amazed when I began teaching college vs. international students how politicized my colleagues were. It was very annoying and, I thought, kind of immoral. I’m so glad I’m not doing it any more. My university classes would have started two weeks ago and I would, right now, be hearing from kids who went to Burning Man and missed a week of school how unfair everything is. They would have had their first quiz and they would have done poorly and they would be enraged at ME even though 1) the quiz would have been worth 2 points out of a total for the semester of 1500, 2) they could have aced it if they had half a brain.

    If I have another life ahead of me I will NOT be a teacher. I hope. Who knows, but it was a total waste of time. I wish I’d known then what I know now. 🙂

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    • I am not psychologically in the right place to be a teacher. It was just a matter of earning some extra money when I taught english. I had never heard of that burning man thing until today when I saw something in the news about someone really getting burnt. Have no idea what it is and why. Someone runs in fire and come out renewed? I always thought the nice thing about being a teacher were the holidays, the bad thing was dealing with todays kids.

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      • Burning Man is a kind of alternative world that last for a short time in the Nevada desert. No one is supposed to get burned. In a way it’s like burning the witch of winter in CH and Italy.

        I really liked teaching while I was doing it. Now I think it was a waste of time. It’s a good thing I didn’t think that then or I’d have had to figure out another way to make a living. 😀

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        • Burning man sounds something like Sechseläuten in Zürich when they make a huge bonfire on the main place at the end of Winter and put a model of a snowman stuffed with fireworks on the top. They gallop around the fire on horseback until the snowman falls and they work out how long the summer will last from the fire burning time It is accompanied with a large procession. I have seen it a couple of times myself, and it is very good.

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          • Yeah kind of like that but it lasts a lot longer. I never went but a lot of my friends have gone. I don’t see much appeal in being in a desert in August with a bunch of other people and porta-potties. 🙂

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  3. I remember learning about crop rotation as a child. I don’t think they teach history much in schools now but I went through the Romans, the Saxons, the Industrial Revolution and assorted revolutions in other countries and what seemed like every weird farming contraption invented in Australia. I quite enjoyed it and still like history. I do agree that being good at something doesn’t mean you can teach it well. In the seventies when I was in high school there were a lot of the older traditional style teachers but also younger ones who talked to us about things that were happening in the world. I think I was introduced to ideas I wouldn’t have got otherwise from one or two of them.

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    • Sounds like you also had more the economic history side of things. I would loved to have done the political history. One of the subjects was World War I and all it s various aspects. Actually the farmers here in Switzerland still apply crop rotation. You cannot plant the same crops in the same field every year. I even had to switch my strawberry patch in the garden after three years, although I gave up with them eventually: too much work. We had all sorts of teachers. It seemed to me in my first years they were quite traditional, but then we got a new head teacher. She was younger and the new teachers that arrived were also younger and their outlook was more modern, although this was in the fifties/sixties. The only political teacher we had was this history teacher, but she was an original and they are the teachers that make it all a bit of fun.

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