I have been wanting to write about this for a long time. I am a recently graduated Medical Doctor, and currently taking a Master Program in Genetics. I have a personal interest in education world, which simply explained how I have been growing care for issues regarding education system, management, and etc. At this time being, I have to admit that I do consider a career in education. I have not decided anything yet, but this is one of options that I will think further. It is not the glam, it is certainly not the money, it is… once again… simply my personal interest.
It reminds me on a question I have been asked during interview for my Master Program. I was asked by one of the interviewer whether I am considering a career as a lecturer. My answer is a yes. And of course he wanted an explanation afterwards. I always believe that teaching is the highest level of learning and this is the best reason I can give why I am considering a teaching career. I love to learn something new. I admit that I have certain thirst to update my knowledge from time to time. And therefore, it is important for me to teach. However, this is not what I am going to talk about today. I want to talk about my other belie, that the highest level of teaching is definitely inspiring.
Now after I finished 6,5 years of medical education, when I looked back and remembered my lecturers one by one, I do realize I can classified them from the way they teach. One of the weaknesses of university medical education in my beloved country, Indonesia, is how not all our lecturers are good in delivering lectures. And honestly I think it is a fatal failure. I even dare to say probably some of them do not have passion required for teaching. I cannot blame them. It is indeed not a job with good enough money. Some of my lecturers even had slipped out tongue and exposed that truth during class. Although the truth is not necessarily a secret anyway, exposing and expressing anger or feeling of not being paid well with students definitely not a wise decision. It certainly will not grow respect nor trust towards the lecturers.
So, let’s start our journey in sharing point of views… since I need to start working on my paper soon.
Number one… The lowest level of teaching is preaching.
Have you had a teacher that came into class, delivered a power point (ppt) slides full of writing, spending 1 or maybe more hours in class talking to himself, or reading the whole passages of what is written in the ppt? Well I had that experience. Those teachers are classified within this group. Mostly this type of teachers have no passion to teach. Teaching is just a job, whether their students understand it or not will never be their problem. As long as they come to class according to schedule, their jobs are done. Sometimes these teachers open a discussion, which make them slightly better than those whose not. However, their lack of passion for sharing knowledge caused low urge to answer it in a precise yet concise way. Students often find their answers unhelpful. I honestly think following classes of this type of lecturer is a waste of my precious time. What the lecturer said is precisely written in the book. Reading it myself is probably way more helpful than spending an hour or two for a monologue from a passionless person upon what they are trying to teach. As an ex-medical student, I found sleeping is even more precious than following this kind of lectures. Medical students in Indonesia (I don’t know about other countries), do have periods of lacking sleep.
Number two… Teaching as educating
The idea of this certain type of teacher, an educator, came from one of my clinical pathology lecturer. She was the youngest lecturer in the department when I was doing my Bachelor study. In her point of view, teaching should be used as a way to deliver more simple alternative to understand certain material. The books are there, students can read them, but understand them is another thing. She always tries to deliver different perspectives in learning certain materials. Studying is not about remembering, it is about understanding. You need to know precisely the meaning of each word you read to understand it, and sometimes books do not help, but lecturers should. This the important part where the lecturers step in. They are there to make the materials more digestible, not to deliver what has already been written in the book. Making certain material more understandable definitely required good enough skill of learning. For me, it is like trying to put your learning skill in a higher degree. Everybody can learn anything. Learning mostly is a matter of persistence, but educating, making material more simple, is way more advance than just persistence. Believe me, it will challenge your understanding upon a matter a lot. I know how difficult it is, so I really respect teachers that try their best to deliver a different perspective to understand certain materials. Well, although failure sometimes occurred
Number three… finally, the highest level of teaching is inspiring.
I need to say that it is really rare to find a teacher, a lecturer, or whatever you would like to call it, with this kind of quality. I hardly find someone with this quality during my study. Although I am very grateful since I had my chances to meet some of them. This type of teacher is incredible. They never made you bored. They put the must know facts on their ppt slides, and simply hide the less important ones. Not because they do not want you to be smarter than them, but because they realize it is impossible to stuck a huge container of knowledge into the heads of their students in only an hour or two. They simplifies their materials to ensure understanding from their students, and slowly but sure guided their students into more difficult steps gradually. They grow interest to learn their material instead of pushing the students to learn by punishments, tasks, or etc. They show an up to date data, point out interesting facts, and encourage two way of communication. They never laugh at questions, since there are no stupid questions. Questions are merely ways to increase your understanding or knowledge, since every discovery ever made starts with questions.
Last but not least, I am hoping to find more educator in Indonesia. I am sure it is the best solution to increase the quality of education here. An inspiring teacher might be a hard target to reach, so I am hoping that our teachers and future lecturers, own passion to at least becoming an educator. Teacher is a noble occupation after all. I mean you do have the power and chance to push people into their best potential. Isn’t that a precious and prestigious chance? I hope more teachers, especially the preachers type would want to open their perspective to be better, not for any lame excuses, but for the best benefit of their students and themselves. The future of a country lies in the hands of their young, and that is how teachers have their chance to change the world.