8 Nov 2010

Stereotyped II

Gosh, three more days to the HCL O Level exams. :(

I've heard a lot of classmates already say things like "how time flies", "I wish I could stay in secondary school forever", "I'll miss the teachers" etc. And now they're scrambling to spend as much time together as possible before the class becomes split up and we all embark on the journey known as Junior College education. Honestly we all should have done all this stuff beforehand instead of creating feelings of remorse and regret, but then we end up wasting away some of our precious time still, probably because we were still young and bashful, not knowing what the future holds.

We students have all certainly learnt many things about the subjects we study, but also about the types of people that we have to interact with, including the teachers around us who are supposedly there to guide us through our learning journey. Some are pleasant, some are harder to get along with. Some are pretty much normal, some are a bit quirky. Don't forget that the teachers are partly responsible for the drama and colour in your life as a student!


The Storyteller: This teacher has several tales to tell in his/her story bank, some related to the subject, some completely unrelated to school. He/she can talk about recent events that happened, or silly stories to make a certain point he/she is trying to make, or simply just to share with somebody else because it seems worth sharing. Some make use of this skill really well, others abuse it horribly and waste quite a bit of lesson time talking about needless stuff. I had one experience where an entire half of the lesson was spent just on my teacher's hilarious, but extremely long story, lengthened further by my classmates' laughter or interjections. The Storyteller actually can be useful for particular areas like Character Education(or Moral Studies or whatever you call it), making use of modern-day fables.

The Motherly Figure: This teacher cares tenderly for their students, perhaps a bit too much. He/she is very very very very very concerned with the students' progress, feelings, relationships, and pretty much their lives in general. He/she treats the students like their own children. Some of these teachers might actually give the students treats like sweets or cookies in case the students needed more energy to study. Some others may approach the touchy-feely territory. Well at least this teacher will be the most likely to answer your questions and clarify your doubts, and is also the most likely to understand the students the most. He/she can serve as part teacher part counselor actually.

The Two-faced Teacher: Not named as such because the teacher actually has two faces, or looks like a freak, but because he/she has two contrasting natures. Personally I'm not fond of this type of teacher because you might never know when he/she would rear the ugly head. Also because this teacher usually appears very friendly and easy to get along with... until the students cross the very very thin line(can be thinner than a human hair). Then it's like you set off a tripwire that detonates a whole series of bombs. These teachers may also exhibit such dual personality in their writing/typing styles. Some are reported to have a very serious tone in their writing but are much friendlier in person. I met a case that was the complete opposite: in class she scolded the class often but when she marks the papers she's full of praise and encouragement.

The Student/Teacher: Technically his/her occupation is a teacher, but the behaviour is close to that of a student of the school. He/she might exhibit similar qualities of a typical student: ignorance/defiance of certain rules, "talking cock", sharing exclusive in-class jokes, sometimes even making fun of other teachers! Actually, some may really be students who became part-time teachers because they're just waiting to go into a certain university or something, and unfortunately they don't stick around for long, and chances are they may also be alumni of your school. Anyway, they can be fun to be around with while they're here. I myself had a whole string of student relief teachers one particular year, having a relief teacher replace another relief teacher who previously was replacing a third relief teacher!

The "Primary School" Teacher: If you're still currently in primary school then this doesn't matter to you. This applies more to those who are in secondary school or higher. This teacher still relies on the same techniques used on students who are in Primary 1 or 2 or something like that. Non-stop repetitive copying/saying aloud stuff or using flash cards are probably employed. Disciplinary measures are also as ridiculous, like making talkative students(or all students) put a finger on their lips, or making everybody stand for the rest of the class. Sometimes to encourage students to get high scores or to participate, rewards are given out. Sweets I can deal with since everybody takes sweets, but giving out star stickers = demeaning the students! Unfortunately this type of teacher can be hard to change, since he/she thinks this is "the most reliable teaching method".

The Joker: Just as there is one in every class, there is also at least a few in each school. Like the storyteller, whether their lessons become effective depend on how well they master this power. Humour can serve as a good teaching tool, but it can also become a major distraction. Funny mnemonics or images can help students remember things like the reactivity series or other troublesome stuff. Some teachers may pick on a particular few students to be the centre of some of the jokes, in order to relate better with the class. The dangerous thing is that sometimes the teacher may go a bit overboard and damage a student's self esteem, and that may take quite a lot of effort to repair. Hence, "with great power comes great responsibility".

The Peacekeeper: This teacher puts loads of effort in keeping everything in order. Every student follows the rules, very few or no exceptions arise. Greetings are always necessary even out of school, students sit in an orderly grid-like fashion, every student must ask for permission from the teacher to do anything etc. Order must be strictly maintained at all costs, otherwise the students would degrade and the school would fall to chaos. If some students hold very important positions like class council/club chairman/team captain/prefect, then all the more the teacher would become strict against them, since they are to be "the role models for the students". Obviously strong measures are employed to get students to conform, like denying students their lunch break, giving extra homework that other classes don't get etc, until "the message goes into their heads" and they learn the proper way to behave.

The Drone: If you're already deprived of sleep, then just about any lesson will cause you to doze off. The Drone is a special case: just the tone of his/her voice can induce drowsy effects on any student, both tired or energetic ones. The teacher somehow manages to suck the energy out of any lesson, and turns even the most interesting topics into boring study material. Some students like the Perfectionists or the Teachers' Pets may still survive and maintain full consciousness, but the rest of the class probably just plunge deep into Slumberland. The sad thing is this sleep-inducing ability is mostly passive and uncontrollable, so the teacher either completely ignores the sleeping students or constantly wakes them up to make sure no lesson content is missed out.

The Energizer Bunny: He/she just keeps going, and going, and going... it leaves both students and teachers in awe, wondering how he/she can still be so energetic after a whole day of lessons! This teacher seldom exhibits a dip in energy or happiness levels, being able to stay cheery no matter what time of day it is in school. I think it's probably a result of a huge daily consumption of caffeine, but nobody's spilling any beans yet. Unlike the Drone, this teacher can make even the most boring topics sound like the most fascinating and amazing stuff you'll ever learn in your entire syllabus! He/she is most likely to grab the full attention of every student in class, even the normally drowsy ones. Chances are this teacher also likes to play sports or frequently trains his/her body.

The Zombie: You thought the Drone was bad? The Zombie takes it to another level. While the Drone makes lessons sound boring, the Zombie actually IS boring, almost dead! The Drone may only sound boring but actually be a very interesting character, but the Zombie is pretty much lifeless, the complete opposite of the Energizer Bunny. Absolutely no heart or energy put into teaching at all. And you know that zombies may turn other victims into zombies too right? Similarly the Zombie(teacher) can turn some students into similarly lifeless beings. There are students that have built up immunity against such teachers, though.

The Original: This type is, at least to me, very rare. These teachers do not like the way most teachers around them teach classes, and so use different methods to teach. They're not exactly rebels because they're not so extreme as to completely turn the education system on its head, but they want to be unique and not a carbon copy of a typical boring teacher. They use creative techniques to get students inspired and passionate too, not just remember everything being taught. They may have to bend the rules at times, and sometimes they even get reprimanded for it, but it can pay off: the students, all fired up about studying their new favourite topics, can actually learn more effectively since they're willing to let new info get in their heads, and even apply this new info around them.

The Entertainer: Although the Joker may be in some ways similar to the Entertainer, the latter has more forms of entertainment other than jokes. This teacher has many ways to make students amazed and keep them interested, mainly to show what applying the knowledge being taught can result in. For certain subjects it can be pretty easy, like for Chemistry you can dazzle students with cool explosive reactions. For others it's more challenging, and it can test the limits of the teacher's creativity. By the way, it is okay for a teacher to copy another teacher's routine, as long as it's done properly and gives the intended effect.

The Amnesiac: There are times where the teacher may occasionally forget where he/she left off last lesson, which can't be helped considering he/she has to teach several classes and mark tons of assignments. But the Amnesiac is more extreme: almost every lesson the class has to remind the teacher several times about their progress, so much that students can get annoyed pretty quickly. Most common phrases include "Where was I?" and "Where did we stop last time?" Even a brief interruption can cause sudden memory loss. The Amnesiac can also forget to bring teaching material, or frequently leave stuff behind in the classroom. Sometimes the teacher can forget students' names... even after teaching the class for half a year!

The Traditionalist VS The Modernist: Traditionalists rely on traditional methods(NOT primary school methods!) when teaching students, using the good old whiteboard(or even the blackboard) to make a point. No laptops, no fancy technology, just the basics. Modernists on the other hand indulge in using fancy technology to either bedazzle students, or to make things easier to understand. They swear by Powerpoint slides, tablet PCs, Flash, etc. Some even can afford to utilise the latest gadgetry, like touchscreen whiteboards! I'm not against either method of teaching, nor in favour of either type of teacher, because I think both can work well, depending on how the teacher does it. I've had two Math teachers who taught me before, one used a tablet PC so he can actually write out working on screen, while the other only used the whiteboard and visualiser. And I've never had problems with both!

Hm... that's about all I can think of, maybe there are others which I've missed out, but you can share it here anyway. Whichever types of teachers you had to deal with, remember that they all taught you something, whether it's related to subjects or more like a lesson on life. So show some appreciation to your teachers, even if they've long stopped teaching you! Thank them for all they've done for you! :P