The Way of Teaching
Knowing Our Students, knowing our way
Human is unique creature, and everyone is unique as well. Twenty students in a class means twenty unique human, twenty behaviors, twenty habits, and there are more other twenties… regardless their uniqueness, they are not, actually, ready-study person. Students need to be “managed” from their physical to their cognitive aspect. It makes sense that Gardner differentiates intelligences in his MI, but, are we enabled to apply twenty approaches at once, in a class consists of twenty students? Even, if the answer is “yes,” the subsequent problem appears, “are not we busy enough to do that?” of course we are. It is quite formidable, if not impossible, to touch one by one student in our class; it is not a big deal if we have only three students in our class.
In our “school,” curriculum is always the parameter we use in deciding what approach usable in the classroom, although who the student will be is not predictable. We make syllabus, and then we say that “I will teach this with this approach.” For our education future sake, I assume we have to redefine the education. Students, foremost young learners, are not thinking that education is a transformation or development process; they understand education as what they have to get. They identify education as school, and in fact, they go to school not only to get education, but also to meet their friend, girlfriend, boyfriend, or even enemy. Their understanding of education, or school in practical condition, is contradictory to our understanding of school. We come to teach, they come to learn, but who can guarantee that they are taught enough.
What we teach to the student is not always the same with what they learn. This is happened because we always look the students from teacher’s perspective. We teach them, and then we test them, to know what they have understood or remembered what we have taught, but not to know what they have learned. When we teach students, with our understanding of school, we are actually in a failure gate. Why not? They may understand what we say in the front of class, or what they read, but for what? Do we think that they are “transformed?” if yes, from what to what? Some of schools, formal or non-formal, use placement test to identify the point the students start learning and so that to know what development they have got. Again, one other question, are they transformed?
The first thing we should think is that what understanding of education the students have. This is to make a shared understanding of education between teacher and students; this is to make two trains run in a same railway, to reach a same station. Remember that curriculum is nothing to do with the way we teach, but what we’ll teach the student. The way we teach our students is another story, and if I dare say, it is intuitive.
Cameron (2003) proposes a good starting point, she mentions that we have to start teaching with knowing our students. When first meeting, most teachers ask students to introduce themselves, but it is not what meant here. We observe our students to know how to teach them later on, based on their individual differences. Dealing more than fifteen students in a class is a big deal, related to this case. They key is that, the students must understand that they are learning to develop themselves, not to be liberal, but independent; simply, they can be invited to learn as if knowledge is what created for their own self, not transferred, but they have to farm, manage, and then pick the result. Ask they work, learn, and think that Holy Bible is written from God to each themselves. Fenstermacher & Soltis (2004) write:
“…the most important thing an education can give to youngsters is some perspective on themselves, on who and what they are, on who and what they might become… as if each word of literature they read was written for them and was connected to their own life experiences.” (p.2).
Their own life experiences are taken into account here, their basic life experiences are the starting point of their own education. Furthermore, their experiences will frame their definition of education or school. Just do not force them to accept our definition; ask them to understand that they school to know what they have to know, not what we want they know. This suggests to look education from their perspective, to teach them based on what they are, and who they will be. This may sound as individual learning, but it is not one hundred percent true, this is factual education, they school for learning, not to accept our definition of education. This is the first consideration in teaching our students; knowing them, teaching them from their perspective.
The second consideration is “thinking about environment.” We are 21st century teachers. We are in different situation, still remember when we were in elementary school? Do not teach our students as we were taught by our teachers. Environment, including culture, is profound aspect influences the students’ learning achievement, or our teaching achievement. The students are situated in the current culture, the information and technology age. This makes sense that “old school” teachers who cannot operate notebook and search information from internet are not (sorry) qualified to teach students. This also makes sense that speech in the front of the class is boring, and dictating students is no longer useful.
Multimedia is the keyword in our century education, not sticks, foremost for young learner. And related to this case, Johnson & McElroy (2010) write:
“Education often views the influences of culture as irrelevant to learning, when in reality it is an essential aspect of the learning. Movies, music, television, video games, and other media outlets have a profound influence on learning.” (p.9).
Culture plays important role in education. Culture, as well as educational practice, is created by people. One of the common causes of culture changing is education achievement, and because culture is social phenomena, and education is for social changing, therefore, multimedia as one of our education culture component is a profound education achievement. This shows that education is a form of power (Kemmis, in Carr, 1995:1). Education is power of social change, and the power of the future education itself. The use of multimedia now, the education practice now, determines the future.
Environment, when the students are placed, including classroom, has significant effect. Besides multimedia usage, the environment engages the students in learning is thinkable. Let us say that our class consists of students from different cultures, and our class becomes a “colorful container.” In this situation, we may think that students, regardless their individual intelligence quality, might have other personal reason to narrow back themselves from a class society (native language, or even skin color for example). Here, we should consider to create our class as a “public environment” and “family house” at once, where all student feel the same, as well as in their house. How? We have to be their parent, by regarding them as our children. A teacher, should not be only professional in speaking, but also in listening their students as well as a father listening his children sights, they key is communication.
Cameron, Lynne. 2003. Teaching Languages to Young Learners. Cambridge University Press.
Carr, W. 1995. For Education:Toward Critical Educational Inquiry. Open University Press.
Fenstermacher, G. D., & Soltis, J. F. 2004. Approaches to Teaching. Teachers College Press.
Johnson, B., & McElroy, T. M. 2010. The Edutainer: Connecting the Art and Science of Teaching. Rowman & Littlefield Publisher, Inc.