Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Your students are not morons

I was having an interesting conversation with a couple of my coworkers the other day about how the teachers at our uni think about the students.   Obviously some of them (I hope me!) treat them with kindness, and respect.  Others think that the students are total idiots because their English ability is so low.  The thing is, we work at a science and engineering school so most of our students are in these fields and obviously languages are not their strong suit, science and math is.  Just because someone is bad at English doesn't mean that they're a moron.  My coworker mentioned that if people judged his intelligence based on his Korean ability he'd rank somewhere in the 3-year old toddler range. 

So what I'm saying is this: treat your students with respect, even if they don't know a word of English.  They are probably very good at something else.  Or, have just had a hard few years but life will get better for them later.  Or, they just want to be a taxi driver, so who really cares if they speak English or not.  As a teacher, you have a chance to show kindness and love, and have a positive influence in people's lives.  Starting with the basic premise that your students are stupid idiots is not a good way to do this. 

1 comment:

lulu said...

I couldn`t agree with you more. There is more to students then just their ability to speak English. Don’t get me wrong, English is important. But if we are going to judge their wholeness on English alone, we surely missing out on other things that they are truly good at.
I teach at a High School in the countryside and our students` English ability is very low. However I do not allow their low English ability as a barricade to show compassion. I`ve also learned Korean phrases to give them praise and encouragement but most of all in my daily interactions with them I show them that I care about.I think it’s the little things in our daily interactions that matters to students. Going into each classroom with a positive attitude will make your interactions with your learners meaningful and pleasurable.