A specialist in the field of education writes in the Kyeongyang magazine that the way we value and treat our students may be a factor in solving some of our educational problems. It may be similar, she says, to how we treat a pet animal, citing an example of a dog that had been discarded by its owner and ended up at a retreat house. Kamsang was the dog's name. When called by this name, the dog would not look in the direction of the one calling, but lower its eyes and go off to a corner of the room. It's not difficult to guess, she says, the treatment the dog must have received from its former owner.
One is able to learn a great deal from the gaze of another, she says, whether we are being accepted or rejected. In the classroom it is easy to see in the students eyes whether they are satisfied, agree with how the class is being run, or find the whole thing tiresome. When students are absorbed in their lessons this encourages the teacher to continue on with the class programs, knowing they are of interest to the students.
There is no doubt, she says, that the teaching climate has been affected by recent societal and economic demands which have changed a great deal from the past, especially in the information and technology fields which have developed in recent years. But Korean youngsters have not fallen behind in keeping up with the latest advances. According to OECD, Koreans lead the world when it comes to getting information from the internet and working with computers.
Last year a personality questionnaire was given to middle-school students, with the intent of gauging how relevant in their lives were virtue, sociability, and the emotions. Sixty questions relating to these concerns were asked; a rating under 67 points was considered unsatisfactory--the average rating was 69.8. This was the rating the students gave themselves, while the teachers rated the students as 50.7, parents 60.5. The article mentions there are many ways of interpreting the results but notes that the teachers and parents tended to rate the students more negatively than the students. A good beginning to a more positive attitude on the part of everyone concerned, she feels, is to improve the way teachers value and treat their students, thus setting in place an ideal teaching process.
"Children change over 12 times " is a phrase that is often heard and she has experienced that in her own teaching. The trust and positive expectation of the teacher has the power to change their students for the better, she says. When the teacher, however, has a negative opinion of the student, even if not openly expressed, it is usually picked up by the student, and is a great obstacle for the student to overcome.
For a Catholic we know that we have come from God and have been made in his likeness. There is a seed in us that is to flower with the right conditioning. Each will grow at their own pace. There are those children that grow quickly and those who are slow. There are those that cause great trouble but if we don't distinguish with worldly eyes between superior and inferior qualities, students will grow at their own pace. What they need is the teacher's openness and patience, so that students are able to feel the teacher's concern and interest. This is the hope that Christ should give us as Christian teachers.
While still in the beginning of the new year, let us, she urges, instead of seeing the weak points of our students, look to see their strong points. She would like to have all teachers write before each student's name in the attendance book their strong points and to remember them by these strong points. "God is the one who gives the increase" are words we need to remember as Christian teachers.