As an effective teacher, we must not only know that which we would teach–that is, our content – but we must also know those whom we wish to teach.
To know those whom we teach is a great challenge for teachers. The effect of the family, neighborhood, social media, and community upon young people is demanding increasingly more attention. In order to understand our learners, to plan daily activities intelligently, and to work successfully with parents, we must be conscious of the different forces that shape the living of the learners.
Values, standards of behavior, patterns of child training, approval and rejection, economic status, religion all affect the particular stage of social development of our learners. As children develop, they assimilate the ideals in which they are reared. People vary in their ideas of what is right or proper behavior. Standards of appropriate dress, language, morality differ from one person to another and from one time to another. Example, with the non-requirement of school uniform allows the parents to clothe their children with appropriate attire. To some wearing shorts, off-shoulders, high heels, tattered jeans, leggings in school is acceptable but is considered disgraceful to others. Same with language, some households regard certain foul words usual but offensive to most.
Corporal punishment is a standard practice at home and in school before and during the 1980’s but abhorred nowadays. Teachers could be reprimanded and sued in court for a foul language uttered to a student. They call that bullying. Eating, cleanliness, obedience, courtesy, use of cellphone and television are taught and handled with different methods.
Certain families in the community have prestige, prominence, and power brought by their educational attainment, occupation, economic status, political affiliation, religion, cultural background, race while others are looked down and shunned. This condition brings a diverse population of learners. Some experience the luxury of life, spacious and comfortable homes while others secure the bare necessities of life. These things form the environmental and cultural forces that determine the learners’ behavior.
The challenge is for the school to take responsibility in leveling these distinctions. Human nature is highly modifiable and teachers have a crucial role in the process of producing desired changes. It cannot be denied that what children are to become depends in no small measure upon influences arising from the school and other educational agencies. Common experiences and learning for all children may result in improved communication and increased in understanding between people. Democratic interaction is conducive to the development of respect for others. Utilization of the wide variety of abilities and backgrounds represented in class helps each value his own contribution and those of others. Socio-economic barriers can be overcome in the school as each child is understood and valued for his contribution rather than for the family status in the community.
Teaching is a life – a profession like no other. James 3:1 even warns that not many of us should presume to be teachers because we who teach will be judged more strictly. The investment a teacher makes is far-reaching and requires stellar dedication. So the more we know our students, the better we will be able to motivate and meet their needs. This takes commitment of course, and it takes time, and there is no magic formula. We need the help of our Lord Almighty to carry our burden of teaching those who do not know their left and right. Good teaching has a price tag: willingness. URSULA R. CHENO, Camp 4 Elementary School, Tuba, Benguet