I REFER to the letter, "Teachers want to teach" (NST, May 7), by Hussaini Abdul Karim of Shah Alam. He raised several issues about teachers and teaching. The writer mentioned that at the first National Education Dialogue which he attended, the majority of comments were from teachers who wanted only to teach but were often occupied with non-teaching work such as data entry.
The writer also mentioned that some classes were without teachers for as much as 49 per cent of the time; that teachers act as though they know everything, do not acknowledge their mistakes and get angry when someone corrects them; and that students lack the ability to think and to be creative.
The focus of schools should be on what is learned and how much learning takes place, instead of what is taught and how much teaching takes place
If we put these factors together, we get pedagogues whose idea of the role of a teacher is akin to that of a dogmatic preacher.
They believe that if they are not in their classrooms and teaching, no learning is taking place. They believe that teaching is the transfer of selected information from them to their students.
I think we should focus on what is to be learned and how much learning is taking place, instead of what is to be taught, how much teaching is taking place and how well-qualified the teacher is or how quickly he or she can get through the syllabus.
Learning is a natural process. Schools and teaching in school are social constructs. The content of schooling, especially if it is dogma, can stultify thinking and creativity.
Thinking and creative skills come from guided, independent learning; this is not encouraged in our classrooms.
Does a teacher, who is absent from class 49 per cent of the time, set work for the students that develops such learning skills? I doubt it.
I feel we should not worry about classrooms without teachers. We should worry about classrooms without learners.
By Bismillah Kader, Kirkby International College, Cyberjaya, Selangor
Source: New Straits Times Letters to the Editors 25 May 2012