It is about them

Last week we have seen the video by Mike Wesch about the way in which students feel invisible and unimportant in the classroom setting and in their interactions with their professors. As I mentioned in our class, that was no news for me. Ever since I know myself as a student, I have experienced hardships and observed how it reflected to my own learning process. Coming from a family of teachers, having been taught in both public and private educational institutions, in classrooms which range from 250 to 5 students, took hundreds of standardized tests, as well as specialized ones, whose subjects range from language to science, literature to geography, I came to realize there is no singular way of learning. And yes, a privileged position makes a difference in one’s learning experience. For instance, as the daughter of two good teachers I have no choice but to learn and to achieve. I am sure Mike Welsch’s son will be a fierce learner and achiever, as well. The list of different circumstances may be extended however, what I am curious about is how I can make learning experience more beneficial and desirable for my students. As I go over this week’s materials I started to find answers to my question both as an instructor and to better understand my expectations as a student.

Throughout the week, I have been contemplating on my mission, my responsibility, my plan, my schedule ect. It included so many “my”s that I forgot my students have expectations from this class as well. It was not about me. This class was about them and their learning experience. As Ken Robinson mentioned in his talk, learning is an individual process, which requires curiosity and creativity.

My position as an instructor allowed me to organize the class in a self-centered fashion. All I need to do was to assume. Thus, Langer discusses how myths about learning structure the way we organize and act as teachers, leaving no room for mindfulness in the classroom environment. Thinking what I needed to do at the basic level would suffice to clear my conscious about my responsibility as a teacher.

The rigidity of the habits reinforced by the myths about teaching and learning is mostly depended on the foundations of our education systems, command and control. How does this unbalanced power relation effect our teaching? What does it do to us as teachers? I argue that it may make us lazy, indifferent, self-centered, which in turn what we will be obsvering in our student’s attitudes towards the class. However, I believe the bigger danger lies in making us hold on to our teacher positions rather than being mindful about teaching and students’ learning process. Taking the myths and assumptions granted on teaching or following a certain standardized teacher attitude may prevent us from seeing our students and their needs. This is how we make them invisible and feel ignored.

Through his example on the Death Valley, Robinson underlines the importance of conditions that renders the learning experience either dormant or flourishing. I believe we first need to enable such environment through creating new categories, offering new ways of thinking, encouraging openness to new information, and raising awareness on more than one perspectives (Langer, 4). Most importantly, within the time we spare for preparing and lecturing, we shall prioritize student’s learning experience over our teaching position.