Teaching is Learning

Aside from those mentioned in the article, how else can education be improved?

This is one of the questions given to my student to answer after reading an article about education.

Education is a very broad topic, so an answer to such question sometimes depends on our social status and experiences.  I can give so many suggestions on this myself, but my student’s answer was something that has never once graced me, even though I have been experiencing it for so many years now.

“I think students should be given a chance to experience to teach what they learn.”

It makes a lot of sense, right? I mean, how can a person teach something they don’t understand?

As a student, I thought that my history and math classes were only useful for me to earn enough credits to graduate, but as I grew older, I understood that they were useful at different episodes of my life, and without those, I would’ve been in trouble. Language subjects were my favorite, and I think I’ve learned a lot from my classes; however, probably, if I paid more attention, I would be a better teacher, and my work easier. Nonetheless, teaching has given me different avenues to re-learn and gain more knowledge.

For example, I was teaching plot structure to my primary students last week:

plot structure

Though I’ve written several stories myself, my writing process is different because I was never schooled properly on how to write a story. I basically picked up a pen and started writing to serve myself. On the other hand, I had to learn the proper writing process to impart to my student. I was unaware of what story elements are and why it’s called such, and I was ignorant of plotting a story. Sure, I remember having a discussion in Lit class, but analyzing the plot of others’ story and making your own are quite different things. No wonder I got stuck in so many of my stories, I just dropped them altogether.

If I were not a teacher now, I don’t think I would have bothered to study these things again because I can be as lazy as I want for myself. If I didn’t have to teach English grammar to my Korean students, I probably would have understood less of why sentences are structured like this and that. Sure I have the core skills down (not perfected), but it’s just much better to understand rather than just knowing, right? If I had an early-teaching experience, I might’ve paid more attention to what I was studying.

These personal experiences made me agree that early-teaching experience can help students grow as responsible social beings. Students would have a deeper appreciation of what they are learning because they get to experience at an early age how knowledge works in the real world, and are not just mere theories forcing their way out of the pages of textbooks. Of course, students shouldn’t be obliged to be a teacher in the long run, but an immersion to the ways of teaching, I think, would plant a seed of consciousness to them about the importance of being educated and the ways it becomes advantageous in life, especially in helping, influencing, and even inspiring others.

In the years I’ve handled students, I wonder if I have ever really made an impact in their life? I’ve always been uncertain at my place in this field and I couldn’t imagine myself doing the same thing as a career, though recently, I think the fog is clearing. Most people would consider five years an achievement to be in a certain field of work, however, the learning is just never enough no matter the length one has dedicated to something. In those five years, despite my awe at the passing of time, I realized that I’ve just began this immeasurable journey. It’s only now that I have taken a serious look at my destination. The image of the destination is not clear yet, but it’s much better than just aimlessly dragging my foot on an unknown road.

I’m not even sure how I got myself on track, but I guess it’s the rewards of this job that has kept my preschool and primary teachers in their job, in the same schools for a long time. Would I be the same like them? Only time can tell. If you ask me, of course, I’d love to stay.

Simply, teaching others is teaching ourselves. The teaching process is a learning process, thus, a process of self-discovery.

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