Have you ever seen Dead Poets Society? I’m sure that most of you have, but if you haven’t, it is worth a watch. In the movie a teacher, Mr. Keating, inspires a group of young men. Mr. Keating is a new teacher and through an unorthodox style inspires his students. The movie ends with a rather rousing scene in which the students support Mr. Keating in a time of tribulation and, we are to suppose, thereby proving that he was a good teacher. Sounds pretty good right? Goal achieved, but not really.
When I was beginning teaching this was one of my favorite teaching movies, and it inspired me to be like Mr. Keating. However, I was very green, as all teachers are in their first few years. It took me a long time to realize that Mr. Keating, while a pretty cool guy, was not an exceptional teacher. The ending scene clinches it all.
The students like him, but perhaps didn’t learn as much as they could have. In those first few years of teaching, it’s very easy to fool yourself into thinking that if the kids like you and you are reaching standards, then the job is done and you are a good teacher. However, it goes much beyond this.
Teaching, like learning, is a never ending work that will not be long satisfied with short cuts and complacency. Those who know the most, truly know how little they know and how necessary it is for them to keep learning.
I will be writing some teaching tips in the newsletter and I thought this was a good way to start, from the start. In light of this, I encourage you all to research teaching a little bit more, especially teaching in Japan and how it can differ from Western education. Here are some books and websites that I have found especially interesting;
- The Japanese Model of Schooling: Comparisons with the United States by Ryoku Tsuneyoshi
- www.japan-education.blogspot.com: a nice source of reading for issues concerning the teaching of English in Japan