Teachers Don’t Seem to Realise How Destructive They Can Be

At some point, it really stops being the students’ fault.

Note: This is a full-on RANT.

It torments me that I keep writing about the same things, but my goodness, I am so tired of talking! If the only thing that will listen to me is paper (and by extension, my own blog), that’s fine for now. I might even have to start naming my notebooks soon, just for the sake of personification, so I can feel like I’m actually talking to somebody.

It’s almost as if this school is oppressing me so much that I can’t even seem to think about anything else – which is very bad, because it is exactly this kind of myopia that I condemn. I need to think wider. I’m reading, but perhaps I’m not reading intensely enough.

The current cause of frustration: teachers. I wrote this recently:

 

Brilliant students,

Parents bluffing.

Teachers always

Doing nothing.

Stellar grades,

Teachers praised.

 

And I will not retract anything I meant in this poem. I have grown so out of love with the teaching staff that it’s becoming burdensome to even see their faces. My primary internal reaction when I do is “OMG go away!” My secondary one is “Actually, I hate it here – so you stay and I’ll go away.”

I am very much guilty of wishing that absolutely nobody would pick Computer Science as an IB subject, just so that there will suddenly be no need for the CS teachers and then they can leave. It’s never granted, though. People continue to take the subject. The problem is that these students are brilliant – so they continue to pass the subject, with or without effective classroom teaching, although the grades to seem to reflect yearly that there is still much to be desired. (Unless some of the students are actual super-geniuses, which has happened at least once.) But the point is that once students continue to blow (thanks to themselves), the teachers continue to get the praise that is not due them. It nearly drives me mad.

This CS class is one that I dropped after half a semester – not because I couldn’t handle the course, but because I couldn’t handle the teacher and his teaching (and testing). I suggested multiple times before the drop that something had to be done about his teaching style, and it was fruitless. On one test day, I walked in, saw unidentifiable objects on the paper that I was somehow supposed to know how to answer because in some parallel universe elsewhere, he had taught the class and prepared us for this, and I had just happened to find myself in the universe where none of that had actually happened, and so it was entirely my fault that I had no clue what the paper was saying. That was the day that I decided, “Nope. I’m not going to fail school for the sake of another person’s opposite-of-smartness.” I dropped that thing quick like it was kryptonite and I was Superman.

I have an interesting math story. I developed a crazy math-phobia and was terrified to even step inside the classroom. When I did enter, I didn’t understand a thing, and I didn’t care about trying. Math was only a demon that I had to escape from as fast as possible. When I switched to Discrete Maths (which I did partially in order to escape from this teacher), my teacher changed, and suddenly, math was not only bearable, but almost fun. It no longer gave me nightmares, but then the next in line became the worst in the line: French.

I would enter a bad mood at just the prospect of entering the French class (and I am in fact still in this situation). I feel like I haven’t truly learnt anything in a French class for about 2 years. And I don’t hate French itself. My goodness – it’s such a sexy language! It’s the only language I know where even insults sound like beautiful proclamations of amour. But if I like the language…obviously, something else is wrong with my academic French experience.

I do not appreciate having ad hominem attacks being thrown at me and my classmates, much less attacks that target our spiritual lives. Why must a French teacher get up and tell someone that when she reads her Bible, she is “deceiving herself quietly”? =( It’s so difficult to handle being in a class when a teacher irritates the skin off of you. A friend I call Tronomie once messaged me, during a conversation, “Many language teachers aren’t really teachers. They’re just…people. Who happen to speak a particular language very well.” And it’s true. The knowledge and skill in one’s field alone does not qualify a person to be a person who is employed to professionally transfer this knowledge and skill.

Don’t even get me started on TOK. *screams* And all it does is make me sullen and super quiet in class, but I can’t convince myself that having great reports saying, “She contributes in class” for my college applications are worth my freaking sanity.

From my experiences and observations, I have come to the realization that there are teachers who really don’t understand how absolutely destructive they can be. There are too many subjects I have entirely fallen out of love with, not because of the nature of the subject, but because the teachers made me hate them. I want to cry when people’s testimonies for why they don’t like various types of Literature are because of some teachers who killed their interest somewhere in school. And as for the ones who use ad hominem things to affect the students’ marks, those are among the worst.

If you’re a teacher and your aim is not to inspire the children and get them to love learning, you should retire. If you feel like your job exists so students can get marks and graduate, find another job. If you’re in the occupation for the money, you need to retire! If your students don’t like you and/or your teaching style as well as believe that you are basically detrimental to their knowledge acquisition, please re-evaluate yourself. If syllabus guides and mark schemes are your bible, you don’t’ like your subject or your students. And especially if you believe that the mark schemes determine your students’ intelligence, you don’t, and cannot love them; same if you believe the intelligent ones should score highest and the others lower. You need to clean your mind.

I think the very best teachers are the ones who are frustrated with the system, because they are the only ones who will be smart enough to find value in learning over education.

I shudder to think of how many people who aren’t reaching their full potential, or have missed opportunities that would otherwise have been their calling, because of teachers. It doesn’t matter how great your subject is. If you kill students’ minds, you are part of a grave system of destruction.

-Akotowaa

What is he going to teach them?

On Sunday, I was at my great-aunt Agatha’s house with an uncle and the one and only Charles Seth Ofori, the coolest grandpa in the world. I got intrigued about their conversation when Grandpa and Grandma Agatha began to rant about Ghanaian politics and general human behaviour.

Here’s one thing we should note: Grandma Agatha is the absolute strongest nonagenarian I have ever seen. She may be nearing a hundred, but blast you if you believe, for even a second, that she has lost a fraction of her lucidity! One such blasted man, who happens to be the boy who comes to cut her grass, was mentioned somewhere in these rants, and I am going to relay what she said as accurately as my memory will allow.

“This boy who comes to cut my grass…when we give him sachet water, he just [here, she performs a throwing hand gesture with nonchalance] throws it on the floor! And when we give him food, you come and collect the plate, and there are just…toffee, gum wrappers everywhere! You know, this boy recently finished what we call SSS (senior secondary school…although I believe it’s senior HIGH school now) at Aquinas, and now he goes to a teacher’s training college. I don’t understand this education system. I don’t know what they teach the children in school. If this boy becomes a teacher, what is he going to teach the children?”

I, of course, am not going to continue the rant, because, hey, what haven’t you heard before? What I can tell you, however! is that at least ONE very satirical story is going to come out of this, so please, stay tuned. Many other rants have inspired me to think up many other stories, and I’m actually promising to write them all down before any of them escapes me forever. Who knows? I might actually start a short series.

By the way, if anybody has any practical, workable ideas as to how to correct the psyche of the “educated” but common sense-lacking Ghanaian, please let me know, so that the “elite” and co can do more than just sit at home and rant about it. Thanks.

Amen to future satires and mental development!

Cheers,
Ivana Akoto Ofori