Thursday, 14 July 2016

A Good Teacher

Aktiviti musim panas : Help my little sister out with her Geografi coursework.

Can you believe how different things are now? 15-year-olds now sit for PT3 instead of PMR, and their Geografi coursework actually stands as a subject on its own for PT3. Wow. I feel like a veteran now, old and weathering....

Anyway, early midlife crisis aside, today I helped my little sister out with her Geografi coursework while folding clean, fresh laundry. Mama was reciting Quran at the side so our conversation was within her earshot. The coursework requires my sister to define sistem pengangkutan (transportation system), identify current problems pertaining to that of the vicinity of our home, and propose pragmatic solutions for the problems identified. Mama pointed out that if the scope was zoomed in to our local area, the problems that we brainstormed were relevant to the public transport system specifically, not transport system in general. So we thought it would make a lot more sense to focus her coursework on public transport.

Since we live in the age of Whatsapp, kids nowadays can just Whatsapp their teachers whenever they have any questions**, so my sister did exactly that. She asked her teacher to clarify if the coursework actually demands her to find information on transportation system in general (inclusive of private & public transportation) or public transportation alone would suffice. I know the question of the coursework is clearly worded as 'transportation system' and not public transportation, but bear in mind that this coursework is meant to be done in our local area.

What her teacher did was brilliant. The teacher first asked my sister what she understood from the question.

And then the teacher gave my sister the definition of sistem pengangkutan (transportation system), ad verbatim :

"Sistem pengangkutan bermaksud cara sesuatu benda atau org perseorgan menghantar brg atau sampai ke destinasi yg diingini."

The teacher next proceeded to ask my sister, according to the definition she's just been given, does that limit her to public transportation per se or is it an umbrella term for all kinds of transportations?

I admire teachers like this, teachers who don't spoonfeed their pupils/students with answers but train them to think & analyse using the materials provided, as well as drawing relevant conclusions based on the thought process. The teacher didn't tell my sister if she was right or wrong, but the teacher gave her a piece of information as subtle guidance to help my sister decide & see for herself what the answer is. I think that's what the teaching profession is about, to educate you and teach you how to think and cultivate curiosity and expand your horizons, and not to merely tell you what's Correct and Incorrect, because a lot of things in life don't submit to the simplistic binary, a lot of things are not strictly black or white, right or wrong. Some things fall in the fifty shades of grey (hahaha) in between, and are therefore subject to personal judgement, so it's important that one is armed not just with knowledge, but with the finesse to extract information from said knowledge and form own judgement using the relevant information. 2 people looking at one same shiny diamond can argue about the different colours that they're seeing, but 1 educated person will know that that's total internal reflection doing its magic (right?? Right?? Any physicists out there? My Physics is really rusty haha, my Physics teachers would be so disappointed in me)

What makes a good teacher, in my opinion, is one who imparts knowledge that goes a long way, beyond the four walls of a classroom.

I'll leave you with a quote that I personally hold on to until now :

“The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don't tell you what to see.”
-Alexandra K. Trenfor

**Lucky lot! I used to pester around my teachers and follow them all the way to Bilik Guru and beg for their attention before I could even ask them anything (most of the time, asking for another mark to help me make that B to A grade leap haha)

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