The Right To Not Be Stupid
Kartini – who fought for women’s rights for education in the 1800s once wrote, “I have a right to not be stupid.”
I have a right to not be stupid.
Just the other day I berated a whole class for cheating when they were doing their computer based training and assessment.
They did not understand why I was livid – it wasn’t the cheating that disappointed me to no end – it was the stubbornness on their side to remain stupid; to not have enough belief in themselves that they could achieve things with their own effort.
Instead, they chose to do the things that were the opposite of what our heroes and people like Kartini had fought for; the right for education, the right to learn and improve their intelligence.
The right not to be stupid.
But it seems that it’s all today’s generation about – stupid yet arrogant, stubborn, ignorant, always looking for shortcuts, and lacking beliefs and integrity within themselves.
Are You a Pack Leader?
No, this isn’t an endorsed post for the famous dog whisperer. This about human beings acting like dogs. Well, actually – there’s nothing wrong with dogs; they’re the cutest animals I’ve known, and frankly they have more common sense and morals than some humans living in this world. But after watching so many episodes of the Dog Whisperer, it occurs to me how some humans actually behave the same way with their friends.
Any pack of friends I know always have a Pack Leader; the one with the final decision, the one who decides who can join their pack and who should be cast away, the one who controls the pack, and even so often, the one who pays for their pack as a way to control their friends. Basically, they are The Alpha Male or The Alpha Bitch, so to speak. Seeing as the Pack Leader pays for stuff, the betas feel obligated to follow whatever the Alpha tells them to do.
Some people don’t have problems being the betas – in fact, some seem to enjoy spending money on the Pack Leader’s expense, as well as not having the burden to make decisions which affect the pack. It’s not that these people are bad people, it’s just that they are more like sheeps – they don’t have a mind of their own and they follow wherever the herd goes.
The other day I was watching an episode on BBC Knowledge about the Primates, and even their species have pack leaders. So I conclude that despite the advancements humans make, they are still no different than animals. Humans always want to assert dominance and power over their own peers, and they take great joy in knowing that they have the upper hand. Kind of like Blair Waldorf in Gossip Girl – being the richest girl in school, she is undoubtedly the Queen Bee – she reigns over her friends, and in return provides perks for being her betas.
The thing is, I don’t believe friendships work that way. I don’t believe that friendship that can be bought is anything close to the real thing. And how sad is it that some people have such low confidence in themselves to make friends that they have to resolve to using money to win and influence them?
Because strip away the money and what are they? Nothing. No character and not enough personality to make people want to stay and get to know them as real people – instead of the ones who pay for everything because they don’t believe that being themselves is enough to make people like them.
So if you happen to be in a pack of friends who treat each other equally with respect, you should cherish it – because that might be as good as friendship can get nowadays.
I used to love my job, but…
…it’s not the same anymore.
I love teaching and I get a sense of personal achievement when seeing the students grow and become more confident.
but several incidents that have happened this year make me question myself:
Am I really good at what I do?
Am I a good teacher?
Do I really contribute anything to the students’ knowledge?
In mid 2012, I found out that an entire class of students of whom I was homerooming were cheating. Well, not all – about 98% of them were. This was a real blow to my confidence and faith, because I really thought they were smarter and wiser than that, and despite cheating the scores were not even improved – they got the wrong source. It wasn’t the cheating part that really disappointed me – it was the fact that they didn’t have any faith in themselves that they would trust answers from an unknown source (apparently it was someone the previous class who had done the same exams) and use them for their final exam, rather than believe in themselves that they were smart enough to pass the exams.
Despite its relevance, the whole thing reflected badly on me. Although I was the only one who felt it, but I felt as if I weren’t a good enough teacher for them. I felt as if I had failed to be a teacher – because in the end the students still didn’t feel confident enough to pass the final exams that they had to turn to desperate measures.
After what happened, I began to lose my motivation. I never thought it would happen to me, as I always consider myself to be a person who really cares about her job, but in the end I kept thinking – why bother? They would all cheat anyway. and maybe the previous classes cheated also. Maybe all that sense of achievement was all in my head. Maybe, I am not a good teacher after all.
I know it’s unfair to generalize but I can’t help thinking that way. It was bad enough that they cheated, but it was even worse when, upon being found out, they apologized by buying us food and flowers, thinking that our apologies could be bought. The blow was just too much for me.
Then, a couple of months later, I found out that the students who have graduated and are now working onboard the ships said that we never taught them anything useful while they were training with us. The same students who treated me so kindly and called me their “Mom”, who asked to take photos with me and told me they would never forget me and that I was their best teacher.
Perhaps it’s all a lie.
Perhaps, it’s time to find another job.
When it comes to teaching and being a class facilitator, I’ve realized that I haven’t shown enough empathy to my students. As a teacher I have the tendency to speak fast and assume that the students have no problems following my thoughts.
Wrong. Some are often lost and out-of-focus, and when I do stumble upon these students, I get upset and think that this is their problem, not mine.
A reminder to myself: It’s okay to slow down. Better to spend more time and making sure everyone understand as well as making sure that they read the lessons ahead before they are being discussed, rather than wasting time telling the students off for not listening.
My other weakness is giving instructions – I often forget that different people think differently. Most of the time, because of the time limit and the amount of lessons I have to cover, I belittle the importance of giving actual example of the task in which I want my students to do. I tend to think that verbal instruction is sufficient and that everyone understands – which might work on a Lower Intermediate class, but will definitely fail on an Elementary level class. Even on some cases, I find that giving actual examples by putting myself as a part of the role actually makes a significant amount of difference in both levels.
A reminder to myself: Show them how it’s done exactly so they know exactly what I expect of them. There’s really no other way to do it. This will eliminate students from interpreting things differently and doing unwanted improvisations that again, might result in me getting frustrated for not achieving the target.
To sum it up nicely, my biggest problem when teaching is probably patience. This, I don’t have enough. I don’t like wasting time and I simply can’t afford to; especially when there are twenty students needing my undivided attention and for me to identify each of their strength and weaknesses so I can find out ways to help them. Individually.
I hope I can remind myself to try to put myself in their shoes and think; If I were them, would I hate the teacher? Would I agree with the way she teaches? What could I do better?