|'Head in Hands'|
Why did national newspapers talk about this if we know nobody is perfect? Why did some reporters and parents say she should resign? Well, I suppose this incident exposes a deeply rooted misconception: teachers are the experts and therefore should NEVER fail. Unfortunately, we have been socialised into the idea that teachers should know how to respond to EVERY situation. And, would you like to know what really horrifies me? I have even seen teachers taking down notes of colleagues’ mistakes during presentations. I suppose it is some kind of guilty pleasure. It has happened here, abroad, both with experienced and student teachers. It’s sad, don’t you think? A teacher who makes mistakes is not understood or respected by their peers. For all of society if a teacher shows their knowledge is somehow limited, they do not deserve the job. It doesn't matter that we have to make decisions when there’s not enough time, that our context shifts from hour to hour or that we try and look enthusiastic in the 2nd period even if we have been demoralised in the 1st. No, society wants teachers to be 100% reliable all the time.
I don’t believe teachers should strive for perfection. For me even the most decorated and experienced teachers make mistakes every so often. Solid preparation and constant training are necessary but we must stop being "the experts" (I can’t help but associate that term with obsessive, boring and somehow authoritarian people). I see myself as a facilitator and that’s why I usually tell everyone I’m nothing but an advanced student who can help others understand what I know and will learn with them what I don’t. The only difference between my students and I may be that I am more resourceful than many of them. What happens if I make a mistake or don’t know something? Well, I say “Oops, sorry!” explain what is wrong or find out whatever it is I don’t know, and gather my mental strength for the next time it's needed. Teaching is hard enough without the additional challenge of mental anguish over slip-ups and imperfections.
In the era of the internet encyclopedic knowledge and accurate retention won’t be as useful as they used to. Do we (or students) need to remember it all if we can simply click on an icon and find more information than we need in a matter of seconds? Guy Claxton, an expert in education, identifies being a better learner in the 21st century with having the ability to tackle problems confidently and having the appetite to keep on learning throughout our lives (click here to listen to him explaining his point of view). Well, that’s the kind of role model I want to be, but what do YOU think? What should the Maths teacher I mentioned before do? Should she be left out of the system, study more or show students that life goes on, even after being bitterly criticised?