Being a likeable teacher helps kids learn

Likeable teachers help kids learnEducation is NOT just about picking up a book and reading it – if you like the book, you learn things. But education has to be right for a person; it’s an extremely personal thing: we like certain people for certain reasons and don’t like certain people for different reasons.

The same could be said about the classroom where a child finds himself. It is all about how the kid perceives the teacher and how she perceives him. If he is in a classroom where he likes the teacher and she likes him, then possibly he will listen and learn from her.

If, however, the teacher is the type who compares one of her students with another student and hurts the feelings of one (the one who was on the unfavorable end of a comparison) then the classroom/teacher isn’t working well because not only the feelings of one kid were turned off toward the teacher/learning what she had to say, but so were the feelings of all the kids who liked the kid who got so ill-compared.

It’s amazing how much psychology interplays with actual learning. We should never dismiss the adage that teachers are like second parents. Love plays a role in learning.


Reform education? Reform the home

Education Reform

Reforming education has become a political football. There are those who promise revolutionary change and those who talk without doing anything.

Surely, there are many great techniques and shifts in tactics to improve output. BUT the real problem is the broken home. Without mom and dad at home pushing Johnny to get the grade, reform is doomed to modest results at best.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for honing. I favor paradigm shifts. What I oppose is charlatan fads exploited by unscrupulous politicians (forgive the redundancy) that sway public opinion momentarily without delivering better graduates.

I realize that there are those who make their living promoting reform. I congratulate all sincere efforts that seek better results. But I’m a bit skeptical. Learning will always involve some amount of plain, old, boring work. You can sing the times tables, if that works for you. But at the end of the day, you had better know how to sing your way through a complex multiplication and division problem. Results are what counts.

A change-up in methodology can be good. Hocus pocus, not so.

However you approach it, at the end of the day, students need to know how to write, to do math, to analyze, to think critically. No doubt teachers play a critical role. But a heartbreak from home to ruin a student in class. It’s great to be dynamic teachers, but if Sarah Sue is crying inside, she might not be paying attention to anything Mrs. Summersault is saying.

Please, please, please, for good of students, keep your home together.