Teach English in Suiguantun Zhen - Heze Shi

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Why the role of the teacher is important? Just few words to share my thoughts, reflections and experiences, about the role of the teacher as I have perceived it, through my life. As this subject is, and has been the area of exploration of various organisations, governments and universities, to mention but a few, I will simply explore this subject by asking reflective questions. Who is the teacher? Very often, we feel that teachers, are the only ones, who earn their livelihood through this specific job of teaching children, junior-youth or adults. Teachers are often considered, to be dedicated individuals, who have studied and gained the skill and capacity to create an environment, where people from different backgrounds and age groups could learn, gain insights, increase their understanding, in a particular field of human endeavour. When I look back to my life, I realise that this description might have been true. Actually, in different stages of my life, I have learned a lot from my successive teachers, whether at school or university. I also realise that, there are very important instances, moments, periods of my life where, I have learned a lot from individuals who were not accredited as teachers, because they were dedicated and committed, in various other fields, in their life. This initial attempt to reflect about this question and my own life, shows the pertinence of this question “who is the teacher?” and leads me to another reflective question: What are some of the characteristics, attitudes and conceptual framework of individuals who have been key in helping me in my own process of learning, whether they were formally recognised as teachers or not? I feel that the answer to this question is not easy, as it entails consistent efforts to delve into my personal life and go back as far as my memory and experiences as possible. Despite the complexity of this question, I realise that the nature of the conceptual framework of such distinguished individuals, who are able to make a difference in people’s life, have common salient convictions. When exploring my own experiences about convictions that instill strong sense of purpose, these very distinguished individuals, who have been key in my own process of learning, I could mention below, first and foremost: 1- The conviction that all human being, from different backgrounds, are thirsty and curious to explore, to understand and to learn. There is a curiosity and thirst for knowledge in everyone. When I look back to my own experiences as a mother, this reality was so visible, from early childhood where my kids were used to ask, what is this? Why is this so? For what purpose is this of that? Later on I witnessed this reality, while working with other children. The nature of exploration was so different, while interacting with junior-youth, as their capacity to explore, experience, and perceive reality had gone to a new level. This reality was visible in the way they would perceive injustice and reflect on the positive and negative societal forces. In other instances where I have collaborated with groups of adults from different nationalities and backgrounds, I was able to perceive this thirst and curiosity for understanding and learning, in the way individuals were reflecting on deep and meaningful subjects, exchanging their thoughts and the lasting motivation they manifested in continuing to doing so. My experiences as an architect, (I worked as architect for more than 27 years) opened up for me, another field where I was able to realise how people serving in different areas of building construction, were keen to explore, experience and learn together. Even though this is formal instruction, with more than six years of studies, obtaining the degree is somehow considered as the beginning of a long process of experimenting and learning. My personal experiences, as insignificant as they might be, strengthened my conviction, that all Human beings, from varied nationalities and backgrounds, are not only able to explore, understand and learn, but are thirsty for it. This, changes the way teachers, see the learners. I feel that allowing this conviction to consciously and deeply, permeate our attitudes and actions, will help to create an environment where the process of learning could be more effectively promoted, with lasting motivation. When I continue to explore my own experiences, about the convictions that motivate these very distinguished individuals, teachers, who have been key in my own process of learning, I could mention also another conviction: 2- The conviction that there are positive elements and beauty in all Human beings. The natural connection and attraction to this beauty is another important factor creating an environment where exploring, understanding and learning could be more effectively fostered. My own experience while trying to explore and learn have showed me, times and again, that the process of learning benefits greatly from an environment, where the relationships between people, are imbued with mutual respect, curtesy, kindness and sincerity. I have noticed, where, teachers or these distinguished individuals, were keener to find beauty in everyone, rather than correct incorrect behaviours, the whole environment was greatly charged with true joy and the understanding elevated to new horizons. Obviously, this doesn’t mean that all undesirable attitudes are allowed and welcomed. This conviction, that there are positive elements, and beauty in everyone, trying to dig to unearth these qualities, attitudes and this behaviour were extremely key, in creating a healthy environment, where individuals become eager to make efforts, not only to understand, gain insights and to learn but to naturally and gradually align their attitudes and behaviour towards an acceptable standard, even to try and tend towards excellence. Interestingly, I have realised that such an environment is like a magnet to other people, attracting more and more individuals to join. I have realised through my experiences that one of the greatest source of motivation is the beauty and interest one finds in understanding and learning. This reflection naturally takes me to my next question. Creating an environment where people are gaining insights and learning is key for both, teachers and learners. What are some of the factors creating an environment, where not only everyone could gain insights and learn, but where one could become an active learner? I imagine that this question in itself, is and has been, an area of learning for many decades and even centuries. This is why, any attempt to answer to this question would be inadequate in this essay. Even though this question is still an area of learning, one could say, that one aspect is commonly accepted and acknowledged by everyone - regarding the approach one could use to increase, the level of participation of learners in any process of learning. I noticed that this question was also addressed within the Tefl course through ESA methodology, with the whole phases of engage, study and activate. There are many other questions to reflect on, in regards to the reality of the teachers, but I will finish my essay by asking a last question. Who is benefitting the most out of learning? The teachers, distinguished individuals, the learners? I have noticed again through my experiences, that there is a dynamic interplay between teaching and learning. When we are engaged in this process we learn as teachers, learners and as individuals interacting with each other every day. My personal conviction is that, the most valuable service in life is teaching, as it has transformative effects not only on the person teaching, but continues to impact, generation after generation. The impact of education in someone, is perpetuated to their families and friends, who in turn perpetuate this impact to their families and friends in future generations.