The horrors of the classroom
Scary teachers influence educational experience
Published: Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 13:10
We have all had terrifying classroom experiences and teachers have in an important role. It is worth noting that all relationships of teachers to students are relationships of power and authority.
The power that teachers possess has a way of inducing fear in even the most strong willed of students. And their authority can sometimes cause them to act in pretty weird ways.
Some become intense and passionate – fused with an innate desire to expound a particular curriculum; others abuse their positions and facilitate an atmosphere not conducive to students learning.
One thing to recognize is that “scary teachers” fall under both categories: They can have a way of inspiring and they can have a way of demoralizing.
What we want to opine is that, sometimes, the scariest professors can bring out the best of you – if they do it in the right way. We also want to explain how some of the scariest professors contaminate the classroom.
Professors who embody personas of intimidation often negate their abilities to relate to students. These are often the teachers who feel they have something to prove – less so that they have something to teach. They are interested in shattering the egos of some students, but often they have the largest ego in the room.
It can also be very scary when a teacher obviously isn’t prepared to teach his or her class. Whether they haven’t done the work beforehand for lecture or simply aren’t well acquainted with the material, it can be a daunting undertaking for any student interested in advancing his or her education.
And personal development relies on criticism of some kind. Teachers often serve as critics; they help students recognize their weaknesses and guide them in a direction where they can turn those weaknesses into strengths.
There are particular methods that are most effective at critiquing students in a positive way, such as preceding every criticism with a compliment and including suggestions for improvement along with their analysis of students’ work.
Many times, teachers confuse the punitive for good pedagogy – and this is never a good idea. There are times when students deserve ramifications for slothfulness, poor work or what have you, but being disciplinary for discipline’s sake is no solution. There must be some intended reforming instinct.
What matters is that teachers criticize their own teaching methods – questioning the efficacy of their approaches and the rationale of their incentives. Good teachers are self-reflective by nature and are thus able to help students improve their abilities to self-reflect.
They facilitate a student’s learning to recognize his or her own potential for growth – for self-correction and self-improvement. As scary as some teachers (and teacher’s assistants) are here at UB, there are some who are incredibly inspiring and change lives every day.
As difficult as it is for some students to recognize it, some of the most challenging, difficult courses can wind up being the most satisfying. The classes that can terrify you at the beginning can render you feeling more capable by the end because you have made it through – and perhaps are better than you were before.
And that may be scary, too – that you may be transformed. But that is the job of teachers. And we are fortunate for the ones we have had in our lives who have made us who we are.
As we continue along the Halloween season, be mindful of all those scary teachers out there – the bad ones and the good ones.