By ROBSON AKIS
DURING my classroom days as a high school teacher, two of the most important qualities of teaching I discovered were personal enthusiasm and friendly rapport with students.
Enthusiasm by definition is a strong feeling of excitement and an eagerness to be involved in a particular activity. Rapport with students on the other hand means to deliver lessons in an interesting manner to create a conducive learning environment.
Teaching was not the profession on which I had acquired my training but an economic situation at the height of the ‘Bloody Bougainville Crisis” forced me into the classroom for the sake of keeping my family intact. That was after I had graduated with Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics, Literature and Bachelor of Journalism from UPNG in 1993 and1994 respectively.
Despite my lack of pedagogical knowledge in the delivery of lessons, I was keen to learn and develop the skills of training the young minds to do the right thing and give them hope for the future.
I realised that teachers who showed enthusiasm towards the subject they taught and developed keen interest in their students created a conducive learning environment.
Hisley and Kempler (2000) confirmed that teacher enthusiasm contributed to an atmosphere of energy and enthusiasm in the classroom which fed student interest and excitement in learning the subject matter.
Teacher enthusiasm and student expectation
They (Hisley and Kempler) added that teacher enthusiasm also led to students becoming more self-determined in their own learning process. The concept of mere exposure to the classroom indicated that the teacher’s enthusiasm contributed to the student’s expectations about intrinsic motivation in the context of learning.
Fraser and Fisher (1982) advocated that student motivation and attitude towards school were closely linked to student-teacher relationship. Enthusiastic teachers were particularly good at creating beneficial relations with their students. Their ability to create effective learning environments that fostered student achievement depended on the kind of relationship they built with their students.
Baker (1999) supported that teacher-to-student interactions were crucial in linking academic success with personal achievement. He said personal success was an internal goal of a student to improving himself, whereas academic success included the goals received from teachers and parents.
A teacher must guide his/her students in aligning their personal goals with their academic goals. Students who received positive influence showed stronger self-confidence and greater personal and academic success than those without teacher interactions.
Students were likely to build stronger relations with teachers who were friendly and supportive and that they would show more interest in the courses taught by those teachers.
Teachers that spent more time interacting and working directly with students were perceived as supportive and effective teachers. Effective teachers invited student participation and in decision making. They allowed humor into their classroom, and demonstrated a willingness to play their part in the education of a child
Those were the teaching qualities I learned and developed as a non-trained teacher. But apart from giving them academic excellence in the subject that I taught (Language and Literature), I would often tell my students that there was no easy way of explaining to a person that he or she was conditioned to “think” in ways which were unhealthy.
“You must be open to hearing a new way of thinking, otherwise you will continue to believe in your own truth according to your conditioning,” I would tell them.
I would tell them that a lot of our young people today were watching too much of science fiction movies and listening to hip-hop and rap music and mistaking them to be realities.
“Action-packed scenes you watch on the screen do not happen that way in real life situations,” I would tell them.
I am no longer in the classroom but my heart still goes back to the teachers who try their hardest to facilitate the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs and habits by their students.
Lies and liars
But while teachers are trying their best to make their students realise their true potential to take control of their own destinies, someone or some people is/are telling lies to them.
So who are those liars? This question reminded me of the Matane Report entitled ‘Philosophy of Education’ which advocated that education of a child was a shared responsibility of the teachers, the parents and the community in which the child was raised.
While the teachers spent seven hours (8am-3pm) a day, five days a week (Monday-Friday), training the young minds to do the right thing and giving them hope for a better future, the children only retired home to their parents for rest at night including weekends.
It is also important that the parents must play their part by exposing their children to positive movies and music. This is step one to conditioning children to think positively.
All carry vibes
In order for a child to become a positive thinker, he/she must be around positive people. All human beings carry a certain vibe about themselves. Children can detect whether that vibe is negative or positive.
This is true even with adults. We can determine within minutes of talking to another person if his/her thoughts are predominantly negative or positive. Children are often attracted to the vibes they receive from the people with whom they are around the most.
I know of a son who had a father and uncle who would smoke and drink beer in front of him. The father and uncle would even blow smoke into the son’s face. As the son grew older, he started smoking and drinking beer by the time he was a teenager.
The son got into trouble at school when he was caught smoking. The father and uncle became very upset with him asking, “Where did you learn to smoke?” The teenager answered, “I don’t know.” The father and uncle never realised that it was them who exposed him to smoking when he was just a young child.
In squatter settlements there is a virus which attacks the minds of the people. This virus is called “A Lie.” This virus is so strong and powerful that it has people thinking that they are winning when they are losing.
This lie was designed to cause anyone affected with it to self-destruct by way of gangs, drugs, crime, prison, and ultimately death. The virus enters the human mind through the ears and eyes. Children are at high risk because their minds are open the most while they are young.
In squatter settlements, the predominant thought process is negative because of the virus referred to as “A Lie.” They believe that the only way out is crime of some kind. Nobody is there to remind them that “positive thoughts attract positive people; positive people attract positive situations; and positive situations attract positive results.” So the children are left on their own to continue the cycle, and the virus continues to spread.
Nobody has everything, but everybody has something. Nobody can save everybody, but somebody can save someone. This is “the remedy.” There is more going on than the words that meet the eye. You will now begin to feel the positive vibe that I have released. This vibe was hidden in the words you just read.
Everybody knows that words have power, and if you don’t believe me, just read “The Remedy” one more time and then ask yourself how you feel.
- Robson Akis is a teacher/lecturer, writer/poet and freelance journalist presently employed by the National Youth Development Authority (NYDA) as acting director for education and training branch. The views presented in the article are his own and not of the organisation for which he works.