Saturday, May 11, 2013

Can Teachers Touch Students' Hearts?

A YouTube video that made the news this week shows High School student, 18-year old Jeff Bliss from Duncanville in Texas, unloading on his teacher in a world history class. He castigates her for not making students "excited" about their class and that she should "touch his freaking heart". He lectures his teacher to "take this job serious" and clearly has a problem with her "packets" as a way of teaching. Of course, here we only get one side of the story, but this student makes some very valid points that all educators should sit up and take notice of. Check it out:

In a later interview, Jeff Bliss said he had no regrets about what he had said on the video. He said that teachers should "interact, get involved, discuss, talk, question" in class. Teaching is a tough job and it is not always an easy one to do. Most are passionate about their work, but just like everybody else, there are good days and bad days. I would even go so far as to say that it is almost impossible to make students excited about all subjects, all of the time. This inevitably means that students will not be excited some of the time. 

I think back to my own education and to the teachers who made me excited about learning: Seán Hallahan and Tomás Ó Riordáin in primary school, John Shanahan, Fr Patrick, and Tony O'Loughlin (no relation) in secondary school, and Dr Frank Jeal in Trinity. They all had one thing in common for me - passion about what they did. This passion translates across the classroom floor into enthusiasm and excitement for students. In the video above the teacher is sitting in a corner behind a desk - not good, she immediately placed a barrier between herself and her students (of course we don't know the full story yet, apparently the video was taken as Bliss was being thrown out of the class - we don't know what for either). However, even if a teacher is passionate about their subject, not all students are going to be excited at the same time. At the other extreme, we cannot make our content boring by disengaging with un-excited students. Where the balance is, that is the question!

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