Ownership: Who has the answers?

People have different ideas about what makes a good teacher. Is it someone who has all the answers and gives them to you? Or, is it someone who pushes you to discover the answers for yourself? Here are three conversations about whether teachers are doing the job these students expect. Have a listen to what these students think. Do you agree?
(Video transcripts can be downloaded here)

I’m not sure my teachers know enough, they’re so young…

It is quite normal to expect teachers to have expertise and experience. Many of us come from communities where it is normal for only the older members to have the authority to speak. So it can be surprising to find young teachers who Universities believe are expert. Some of us may have grown up in communities where only men have the right to authority and so it might seem strange that a woman appears to be in charge of our learning. In British universities it is your ability to teach that is the only criteria. A tutors age or gender is not relevant.

Some of my teachers are not very good …

There is no excuse for poor teaching. There is a lot of support available to teachers. However it is not always as straight forward as sometimes it appears. Students have different motivations for being in class and very different expectations. Some have come from cultures where discipline was very strict and they often unconsciously want to ‘test’ the boundaries of what can seem like new-found freedom. Students can help each other, and the tutor, by being open about their expectations.

My teacher makes us do too much on our own when they should tell us things.

Classroom activities can play an important part in learning. But, everyone has their own preferred way of learning and not everyone wants to learn in a group. Some students prefer to listen, make notes and maybe discuss with people outside of class. Teachers prepare activities to reinforce learning and provide real-world experience. If you do not understand why you are being asked to do an activity you can ask the teacher to explain its purpose.

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