After interviewing applicants with a minimum diploma / degree for the position of part-time English teacher I will conclude that the rot starts in Early Childhood Education.
Kindergartens are forcing children to learn by rote so that they can impress the parents who want their kids to be “ready for Standard 1”.
EC Educators pass the rot over to primary schools who continue to drill the learning and creative capacities out of these children in order to inflate test results.
As long as these children were passing dodgy “tests” they get passed on and on the conveyor belt, get to secondary school where it gets harder and harder to address the problem of learners who are incapable of higher order or complex thinking and incapable of acquiring the language competency to express complex thinking.
Finally, when these kids get to college or university the lecturers will LITERALLY GIVE THEM THE ANSWERS in order to meet the passing rate required.
Having written a course for a local college to obtain accreditation from MQA I know that it is with good intentions that the government says, “If your college is unable to teach this subject to a level of competence, we’re going to revoke your probationary accreditation.”
The colleges and universities, on the other hand, have to deal with a quality of students who are not self-directed and who cannot perform at any level above being spoon-fed.
The secondary school teachers have to deal with students who are not eager to learn or engage themselves in class. These students are tired out and just want to get out of the system as soon as possible.
Some of these students no longer care about learning. They’ve put in too many stressful hours to bother about the “joy of learning”. They want a RETURN on their suffering. They want the A’s so that the world pays them back for the childhood they’ve given up, the joy they’ve allowed to get drained out of them and the sense of anxiety they have about their future. These students have lost so much ground that they are so anxious about needing security even in a world where basic needs have been met.
I’ve read about plagiarism and downright cheating happening in colleges / universities where lecturers sell answers to students. But I didn’t expect to hear it straight from the mouth of my applicant. (This was a group briefing so each candidate realizes that whatever they say is witnessed as truth by others.)
It is as if educators in general have lost the balls to say NO to parents and authorities. “No, I am not telling you your child is a genius.” “No, your child is not ready to sit for this and this exam.”
I do teach kids, mostly because they teach me a lot of humility in return and it is refreshing to teach people who are sincere and ready to learn for the sake of learning. I KNOW what parents are like – asking for results, telling you about why their kid isn’t the top scorer in the subject you are teaching them.
And I say NO to the parents. I tell them, please, if the kind of tests in schools are a benchmark of language ability then our country wouldn’t be facing the problem it is today in terms of incompetency in the Language of Knowledge and Communication. Please allow learning to happen and trust your child. Please don’t put FEAR and ANXIETY into the mix because those elements displaces JOY and LIFE FORCE which is vital for a thriving learning mind.
I tell the parents you are paying for an ALTERNATIVE to what is not working. And if parents doubt my abilities to produce results that is something they need to deal with themselves i.e. the lack of information or knowledge to be able to decide what works and what doesn’t work. It is not in any educator’s benefit to argue with parents about what I know is best. It is totally acceptable for both parents and educators to have differing philosophies about education without one approach being right and the other wrong.
My approach is to do the total opposite of the Law of Diminishing Returns which is the Law that the teaching of Grammar, Translation and Science and Math in English is based upon. (The opposite of the Law of Diminishing Returns is the Law of Organic. Self-Generating, Dynamic Exponential Returns.)
The kind of students and parents I attract are those who are committed to excellence. They may not have all the answers but they have a baseline to understand what is NOT GOING TO WORK.
I wish more Early Childhood Educators have the guts to just say NO to parents who ask them to do academic inflation. I wish more Early Childhood Educators will tell parents, “I study this. I know what’s important for a child’s development at each stage. I am an expert in Early Childhood, not subject teaching. If you want your kids to be good in Chinese, Math, Bahasa, English then you will have to go to subject experts teaching at a level of early childhood.”
If you are a teacher I encourage you to have the guts to say NO to parents who pay you to destroy their child’s long-term creative and learning potential. YOU know what you’re good at and don’t let parents tell you otherwise. And if you are NOT SURE whether or not you are a service to others just find a more rewarding career than teaching. Teaching is not for everyone.
Parents GENUINELY want what is best for their children and you can’t blame them for not always being able to trust educators. How can they trust someone who just goes along with everything they say instead of sticking to a set of core integrity?
As an EC educator, you MUST have core integrity.
If your kids are not “performing” academically at kindergarten level, encourage the parents to look for SUBJECT EXPERTS. Early Childhood Educators are in the business of CHILD DEVELOPMENT not ACADEMIC PREPARATION.
Teachers in primary and secondary school should also have the courage to stand up and say, “No, we are not going to teach to the test and pass the buck. I’m going to teach them to be excellent in life.”
If we don’t arrest this what’s going to happen is that future educators would never have models of excellence in learning. They will not be able to be models of excellence and integrity.
I tell the candidates that come for teacher training – I set my standards very high. One candidate in her 40s said that even though her goal is to be really good at something she believes her standard of “being really good” falls short of my standards for competency.
I’m glad she said that. That’s a spot on reality check.
If I can’t grow a business based on the practice of excellence then I WON’T WANT TO do it. I’ll learn how to make nasi lemak and sell it by the roadside if I have to.
See, that’s what “Organic” is all about. You grow the things that will grow based on the circumstances you are being given. And that’s what Core Integrity is about. You have to be willing to say, “The Rot Stops With Me and Excellence Begins Here.”
If I can’t get great teachers (which was my problem last time) then I’ll start Teacher Training programs to get the great teachers I need. If I can’t get great candidates to qualify then I’ll have to do Proficiency Training Programs.
I’ll need to dig lower and lower down the hierarchy of expertise to find the hidden gems and potatoes. I’m not going to pass off a pebble for a a cubic zirconia nor pass off a cubic zirconia for a diamond.
I have about 6 people ready to train for Proficiency and Excellence and a great future. They’re not only willing to train, they’re willing to PAY and TRAIN and COMMIT and get certified.
How EXCELLENT is that?