Are teachers too sensitive?~From Why Don't Students Like School: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom by Daniel T. Willingham, page 154:
The positive comments [on another teacher’s teaching] should outnumber the negative ones. I know that principle seems corny, because when listening to positive comments a teacher can’t help but think, “He is saying that only because he knows he is supposed to say something positive.” Even so, positive comments remind the teacher that she is doing a log of things right, and those things should be acknowledged and reinforced.
In this section of the book, the author is talking about how teachers can improve their teaching by recording themselves, viewing the recordings with other teachers, and commenting on other teachers’ teaching.
I find this paragraph, and the paragraphs surrounding it, to be pretty corny, as the author says they might. But I think the author is just trying to defend teachers (after all, the book’s target audience is teachers). There are, in my experience, plenty of teachers who do very little right. (And some who do nothing right.)
But what I really don’t like about the paragraphs is how sensitive they make teachers seem. The teachers will get the same amount of money on their paycheck no matter how many students hate them. They don’t get graded, and they don’t get assigned homework by students in subject areas that don’t interest them. I’m not saying that teaching is one of the easiest jobs in the world, but in a teacher-student relationship, I think being on the teacher side is the easier side. Disclaimer: I am not, have never been, and doubt I ever will be a teacher. But I have plenty of experience being a miserable student.
So this whole “be more positive than negative” message just makes me think “oh please, gimme a break!” Would you say that teachers should be more positive than negative in feedback to their students, even when they completely fail a test?
Labels: Why Don't Students Like School?