Saturday, January 17, 2009


Education, as defined in the Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, is stated to be “the field of study that deals mainly with methods of teaching and learning in schools”, the word “educate” is defined as “a way of development mentally and morally through instruction”, and a teacher is defined as “one whose occupation is to instruct.” By definition then, being a teacher is as simple as instructing people in order to help them develop; however, Webster failed to look deeply into the art of teaching and what it really means to be an educator.

To be an educator you need to not only inform or instruct; but also to encourage, support, discipline, listen and understand. A teacher’s role is divided between an instructor, care giver, mentor, and law enforcer, whom provide moral, ethical, and social values. They need to exemplify what we all ideally strive to become mentally and socially, by setting the foundation for each generation to come and supporting what past generations accomplished.

Throughout my schooling I have studied in 4 elementary schools, 2 high schools, and one University. Within that time I have encountered a countless number of teacher’s, most of which exemplified Webster’s definition of an “educator”. I did not display an interest in my schooling and my teacher’s did not display an interest in me other then what I was not accomplishing. It was not until I enrolled in a Catholic High School that I realized the importance of my education and the importance of a teacher’s role throughout my educational development. The answer to a better education is not necessarily through a Private Institute; however, I do believe that the components smaller schools hold can benefit educators in any institute.

The focus needs to be the student; their needs, their thoughts, their potential and how to reach that drive inside each individual student in order to help assist them on their educational journey. Through my experience, teachers lost touch with their students and the drive to help each student progress. Instead of focusing on the individual, most teachers’s focused on the class as a whole, inadvertently encouraging competition between students.
In many of my classes, it seemed that teachers would focus on those students that were exceptionally smart and less of a challenge. I considered my teachers to be lazy; they ignored the more challenging students, those that needed more stimulation; those with the same potential as the “exceptional” students. Teacher’s bypassed those that were more creative and less factual; instead of helping them find ways to strengthen their weaknesses and overcome their obstacles.

Our teacher’s of today need to be more focused on the student and how the student can get the most out of their education allowing teachers the opportunity of working with their students on a smaller scale. While attending Pope John I realized that the smaller the classroom was the more I got out of the class and the more I felt involved and important, causing me to subconsciously better myself. Even in larger classes at the University, when placed in smaller discussion groups I felt as if I was contributing to my education instead of watching it go by. This method also encouraged me to better myself and work harder for recognition.

In smaller classrooms, teacher and student are able to work together accessing different approaches to understanding and learning. If smaller classrooms are not feasible, then considering allowance for a more intimate learning environment may be beneficial by constructing learning groups.

As a future teacher I would enforce smaller learning groups within my classrooms, more student participation would be encouraged but supporting critical thinking. I would learn how my students think, what interest them, and format a classroom environment that will encourage individual growth. Instead of having my students feel as if they need to compete with each other intellectually, I will challenge them to compete with their selves and to push them to better themselves.

Throughout the history of time we have all evolved and changed as a each generation emerged, but the one thing that remains the same is individuality. We all think differently, interpret things differently; we have different habits, flaws, strengths and abilities, so why would we have a structured teaching method that might only assist the minority of our students. Society expects allot from us as we grow and emerge, by changing our teaching standards to fit societal standards we can better prepare our students. Focusing on the importance of freewill and individuality but also encouraging team work within our classrooms will help shape our students for the “real world”.

Throughout my experience as a student and now a graduate, I have experienced this approach to teaching within the past few years. As I progressed to each level of schooling I noticed that teachers understood the importance of instilling confidence in each individual student and helping them compete with themselves instead of others. There are ways of bettering our students without compromising our education. It is up to our teachers to figure out what means need to be implemented in our individual fields and enforce them.

Like the subjects we teach we are all different and so are our students. By getting to know them on a more personal level, while maintaining a professional repute, we can better the generations to come that will be carrying our societal standards. In the classroom we were encouraged to think structurally and by the teacher’s standards, however, once we enter the work force we are expected to think critically and independently, we need to incorporate a way to allow our students to do both in the classroom to better prepare them for the world.

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