Wednesday, 8 October 2014

MOOC: What Future for Education? Unit 3 Reflection

The third unit reflection for the Coursera MOOC What Future for Education? To follow the thread, click on - or search for - the label FutEd.

Reflect back on the teachers you considered in the first reflection task at the start of this week. Reconsider what it was about them that made you consider them to be so good. Would others that were taught by them have the same conclusions?

I cannot recall ever having been in a class where there was unanimous agreement about the teacher in terms of the quality of their teaching, their accessibility and other such aspects. Teachers that I have found approachable and helpful have been judged as intimidating and obscure by peers, and vice versa. Of course there are teachers who are generally more or less popular, but finding an individual that connects with all students in the same way must be nigh on impossible.
Thinking back on this week's readings and viewings, it is clear that there is no one-size-fits-all description of a 'good' teacher as it very much depends on context. From the inspirational personalities embodied in the likes of 'Dangerous Minds', 'Dead Poets' Society' or 'Freedom Writers' to the cult of celebrity tutors in Hong Kong and back to the Gurukul system of India past, the idea of a great teacher evidently varies across time, culture and place. Furthermore, it is important that we don't fail to acknowledge that relationships between students and teachers depend as much on the former as the latter. Despite attempts of national policymakers, we cannot reduce the human personality to a set of constant features. Sometimes human behaviour is illogical, inexplicable and much of the time it is unpredictable, so 'good' teachers will realise this and avoid trying to categorise themselves or their cohorts, but rather observe and respond to the atmosphere and context as it changes.
From the Google Hangout Discussions I participated in this week, there were some clear agreements about elements one might expect to observe in an effective teacher. For example, when we were asked to describe a 'good' teacher from our own educational experiences, everyone talked about individuals who were kind and took an interest in their students as people. Interestingly, many of us could not necessarily remember the content - or in one case, the subject - that had been delivered by these teachers, so I think this endorses the idea below.

Reflecting on my teacher training experiences, this was not something that I can recall being mentioned - the focus being on planning, policies and standards - although it has definitely become clear to me, over the last few years in particular, that without making that personal connection to learners, we are perhaps denying them (and ourselves) an important life experience.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Abena! I'm too taking the "What future for Education" course and really enjoyed your post, and the website you created, on Reflection. Very good idea and material.