What is the right way to teach?

By Joshua Corcuera

Teaching is an integral and necessary part of society. Without it, members of society would lack the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom necessary to survive and to improve the world we are living in.

As we can see, societies where more people have received adequate formal schooling tend to outperform, in terms of socio-economic growth and development at the very least, those nations where only a small minority have access to quality education.

This makes sense, obviously. If someone is illiterate or is unable to perform basic arithmetic operations, then it is likely that they would face serious and catastrophic problems later in life. For instance, those who are unable to read and write would be unable to comprehend contracts or follow directions, while those who cannot add or deduct may be victims of scrupulous individuals taking advantage of their ignorance. More specifically, if one decided to start a small business, but is very poor at math, there is a chance that the same person would suffer from losses instead of earning a profit.

Henceforth, teaching is a sacred and essential profession that we humans have valued for centuries, even for millennia. After all, we already have philosophers and mathematicians thousands of years ago and they passed on their knowledge to future generations.

Now in the 21st century, thanks to advancements in technology and improvements in infrastructure, education is becoming more and more accessible to a wider range of people. Although it cannot be denied that education remains expensive, especially in Philippine higher educational institutions, there are notable improvements in recent years such as the passage of the Free Tuition Law which allowed qualified high school students (those who perform well academically, basically) to attend college with less expenses to worry about.

Likewise, there are more and more teachers and professors emerging in our country as the number of students attending higher education increases. But not all teachers are the same.

My generation can relate, even previous generations really, that there are various types of educators. We have cool professors who can relate with students’ struggles and are considerate to their plight. On the other end, we have terror professors whose mere presence instills fear and chills among learners. And in college, there are those professors who would just attend one or two or maybe three classes for an entire semester. Worse, these teachers may give extremely challenging examinations which may result in students failing the subject despite the professor not teaching in the first place.

Hence, we ask the question: what is the right way to teach? Or is there even a right way to teach in the first place?

After all, students have different methods of learning effectively and efficiently. We have visual learners who are capable of learning quickly through the use of illustrations, charts, graphs, diagrams, concept maps, and similar tools. We also have those who learn more effectively with books and other materials that are too wordy. Hence, the answer to the correct way of teaching would vary based on personal viewpoints and individual priorities.

However, one thing is certain. The professor who intimidates and humiliates, instead of lending a helping hand to students, is not a good teacher. It is not the right way to teach in my opinion. After all, the performance of students is a reflection of the performance of the professor.

In college, there are some professors who take pride in knowing that the majority of his or her students have failed his or her class. It is such a perplexing and ludicrous sight, that there are teachers happy to see his or her students failing. To me, shouldn’t they be ashamed since this indicates that they failed to improve their students?

Of course, there are some students who fail because they may be lazy, or they do not exert effort in their academics, or they prioritized other trivial things and vices.

However, there is something wrong if a huge majority of the class fails a subject, especially when most, if not all, students sleep only a few hours, maybe merely three or four or five hours, just to memorize rules and understand key concepts on their subjects.

Though there may be no definite answer on the right way to teach, there is a certain answer, in my opinion, on the wrong way to teach: those who find joy in failing most students, those who do not attend classes, those who merely give out assignments and leave students on their own. These, and more, are indicators of a teacher who teaches not to pass knowledge to the next generation, but to discourage academic learning and to cause mental stress among students.