Mittwoch, 4. Dezember 2013

Negucation - this is not a good title

A supportive environment, be it family or friends is very valuable on all stages of life. Growing up and getting older, one starts to be more aware of the surroundings. In the workplace, or just among friends, conversations get more mature and more reflective. Talking about achievements or various skills among co-workers or friends tend to go in a positive direction, at least most of the time. Not many people try to negate or downgrade what somebody else did on purpose when having a regular conversation. Most people in todays society have a positive and encouraging outlook on things. To me, it is rather surprising that a very important field of work has not embraced this mindset.

A lot of times, kids in school are everything but encouraged to try things and be hopeful for their future. They are told how ‘bad’ they are doing and that they ‘failed’ in various areas of school life. It’s no surprise where this comes from. Student teachers are treated the same way by their teacher during teacher training. No wonder many of them take on this attitude and live it to the fullest in their profession. But why is that? How come one has to deal with disrespectful behaviour from teachers so many times? And where does this all come from, is it just this generation of university teachers, or is it something that was common before?

I can’t speak for more countries than the ones I’ve been living in. I’ve spent a year in Sweden, where it was almost a culture shock for me at the university, but that is not the point. I’m curious where this came from in Austria. It might be a societal issue in general. If one would follow the classic stereotypes that are known about Austrian people, one could probably find connections to where it came from and how it developed over time.

I’d like to take it back to the basic educational point of view. If the student teachers get treated this way, then they are going to treat their students the same way. I believe in change in education from the top. More people can be reached if teacher education is fixed than by fixing yourself and just your own classroom. But how to start?
First of all, higher standards need to be set for new student teachers. It has to be clear that these people are directly responsible for how the society will evolve in the next twenty to thirty years, it is a big responsibility. If you set higher standards, you also have to embrace people who have better basics than others (e.g. prior work experience, certificates, coaching). And this is exactly where it all starts: people with a better basis than others can not be treated the same way. They are further ahead, so they need different challenges or they are going to lose interest. If it continues they get frustrated by the way they are treated because everything is adjusted downwards to suit the “new” student teachers, and so the negative vibes begin. The same could be said for student teachers who are actually new, in the same breath they are treated like little children. If you enter a study programme you obviously finished some high school or got the accreditations to attend a higher educational facility, meaning, you are capable of doing ‘real’ university things like working independently and getting things done on time. Unfortunately teachesr manage to mess up both of these student groups which in turn leads to teachers who treat their kids on a similar scale.

Somehow there is this strange feeling of being between two university-blackhole-systems - the teacher education is obviously very important for any country in general, but then again, there is no respect or encouragement for students who want to be part of it; then teacher training does not prepare you for what you would actually want and need out of it, and your own teachers don’t even have the experiences which would be helpful to you, which in turn makes them condescending; but the teacher training program wants to have ‘competent’ professors and so on...frustrating on some levels.

Education is something positive. And although there are plenty of teachers and schools that do good work, there still are kids in school hearing that they can not do anything every day in school, and sometimes at home. I’m liking the idea of teachers also switching to the roles of guides and mentors more and more. Sometimes the best ‘teaching’ is just to encourage. Encouraging to try, because there is no failure. If there is no way out, there is nothing wrong with asking a classmate or the teacher will help figuring stuff out. But if right from the start the mindset is ‘how difficult something is and that so many fail at it and that you couldn't even finish another task’, how much fun is it to even start and try. Especially thinking about students who need a little extra help, imagine just being positive around them, they will get through it even if its way harder for them. Telling them that it gets harder and harder, and if they don’t manage the basic things it can be impossible, is not going to help. There are so many competencies that are needed later in in life that could be taught through an encouraging attitude.

I feel like so much good can come out of Education, out of schools and universities, but it has to start with the attitude. It has to be made clear that in certain roles people are role models, if they like it or not, but they have to realize that their actions are far reaching. Imagine a teacher in teacher training having a positive influence on one of his groups with 25 student teachers, these student teachers will go out in their respective schools and give the same positive influence to each of their 100 students. So this one teacher can influence the lifes of 2500 kids. How great is that?
Instead of focusing on the negative things, education has to get a positive spin. It is great to have people who want to become teachers. It is an amazing opportunity to help those student teachers make a difference in schools. It is awesome to be able to work with kids and youngsters and help them evolve and develop.

And even Negucation is a great title!

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