The push factor

Those who are afraid to tread new waters may sometimes need to be coaxed or even pressured to deal with the task at hand.

HAVE you ever noticed that the minute you decide you cannot do something, you can’t?

I told this once to a reluctant 18-year-old student but he refused adamantly to believe the power of this simple truth. He decided instead to go with the ready-made explanation he often used.

“Teacher,” he reasoned, “I can’t speak well and I get very nervous when I’m in front of the classroom. My mouth goes dry and I can’t remember what I’m supposed to say.”

I had asked him to be give a short presentation on the topic of chromosome mapping in class.

This is a sub-topic in the unit on genetics of the Form Six Biology syllabus.

A brilliant student, he was quick on the uptake and within minutes, could often understand what others took hours to digest.

As his teacher, I had noticed his acumen and intelligence. I felt however, that the one favour I could do him was to hone his oral presentation skills.

I knew he was hoping that I would let him off the hook. He wanted nothing better than to be able to go back to the safe world of his books and the hours of self-study he employed.

But, to me, this was not what a pre-university student should be doing.

Life was bound to get tougher as he grew older and faced more challenges.

At university, even if he sailed through his papers with flying colours, what would he do when hehad to make presentations?

Was he going to hide behind group members and expect them to do the talking for him? As any good teacher or parent will tell you, it is not an easy task to bolster student mood and instil motivation, especially where public speaking is concerned.

Finding your own level

But, if you are a teacher or parent who cares, can you also turn away from the task and hope that somewhere along the way, the student will somehow manage to find his own level (like water does) and survive?

I shared with the student the principle of “expectance versus acceptance”.

I told him: “I can accept your reason and expect nothing more from you. But, I want to do the opposite even if means hard work for both of us. I expect you to perform and I will accept no excuses.”

In life, if we continually accept defeat, deficiencies and defects, we can stop expecting quality.

I know that a good teacher must have high expectations in order for her students to strive and learn.

by Nithya Sidhhu.

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