Teaching in changing times
Re: “"It's all a matter of principles", Issue #3-2010, p. 8
I appreciate Prof. Ong's opinion piece because I have also felt at times that performance is valued over principles when it comes to teacher evaluation. However, since I graduated from the Faculty of Education in 1978, I have had to learn that our “audience” really has changed and that we as teachers had better accommodate those changes.
One enormous change has been the importance that students place on the relationship between themselves and the teacher. As one saying has it, "If the students don't know that you care, they won't care what you know!"
Maybe this is what the apostle Paul was warning teachers [about] in the famous I Corinthians 13 passage: "If I ... can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge...but have not love, I am nothing."(Verse 2, NIV)
I certainly can't support Prof. John Coleman's conclusion, as quoted, that "'If a lecture is too lucid, it leaves nothing for the student to learn'." The teacher is part of a dynamic relationship with the learner. If there is no learning taking place, one has to ask if there was any teaching taking place. If the students are not learning, then teacher isn't teaching. Teaching can't take place in a vacuum.
The age-old puzzle "If a tree falls in the forest but there is nobody around to hear it, does it make a sound?" could be rephrased to ask, "If a professor gives a lecture, but no one can understand it, has he taught a lesson?"
As one old teacher to another, I would advise Boon Ong to swallow his frustration with the changing times and take on the challenge of communicating clearly to a highly intelligent generation that has been raised in a completely different culture from himself.
Bob Moore, Ed'78