Who is responsible for a student learning?
A recent discussion on a chemistry related email list about teaching chemistry at the college level got me thinking more about the student teacher relationship in karate and outside of karate.
When it comes to a students learning who’s responsible for the student being successful in doing so? A good student can be completely destroyed, both physically and mentally, by a bad teacher. But on the other hand a teacher can only do so much to help a student that doesn’t want to put in the time to learn correctly.
One of the things the chemistry list talked about in regards to teaching is how in todays world it seems like everything is pushed onto the teachers making it their fault if a student doesn’t learn well (or at all). It’s almost as if the students are freed of all responsibility. And I have to say I have seen this same kind of thing happen within the dojos I have trained in. I must agree with almost all of the chemistry teachers on the list that this outlook of making everything the teachers fault is highly flawed.
Teachers and students have a relationship between them. From what I have seen throughout my life the best relationships are the ones that are a two way street with communication, compromise and hard work on both sides.
If a teacher comes into the dojo/class room and does nothing but scream, yell and make their students feel less than human and then expect them to know what they are talking about and to do well on tests. This doesn’t help the student learn anything and is not a good relationship on any level. It also goes the other way. Teachers can beat their heads against a wall trying to motivate a student to work. At the end of the day it is up to to the student to TRY. If a student is not willing to try, what a teacher can do to have that student learn is great reduced and made insanely harder.
This whole thing is a two way street to learning. The student needs to put effort in and the teacher needs to put effort in. If a teacher leaves a student to work by him/her self with specific directions and then the student doesn’t do the work, how can that be the teachers fault? If, in the case of what the chemistry teachers were talking about, the teacher assigns home work problems for the student to do in order to better understand the material, and the student doesn’t do them who’s fault is that?
On the other hand there are teachers out there that have no right teaching their subject. There are many, many ways these teachers can make it hard for a student: bad communication, no desire to teach, abusive to students, only explains things half way so you are left lost trying to apply the information later, giving tests that have things that you never learned about in class on them, lack of effort in their teaching, etc. Hopefully you get the picture. :P
None of these things help students learn and none of them are what a good relationship is about.
With that said, having a bad teacher doesn’t give the student the right to give up. There are, in many ways, options to overcoming a bad teachers to be able to learn. Become a self learner. Read books, watch videos, get online and research, or switch teachers. Almost everyone has the options to learn in other ways. Now for learning in the dojo some of these options are not always good ones. Unlike some of the subjects you find in school, such as math, chemistry, biology, grammar etc, The martial arts are not an easy thing to learn from a book. But for someone that really does want to learn there are still options such as finding a new school, speaking with the teacher, going to other classes with different teachers (if your school has multiply teachers). The point is there are ways to get around a bad teacher and learning is still (at the very least) partly the student’s responsible.
In the same way that the student can’t give up learning because they have a bad teacher the teacher can’t give up on a student. They still need to try. But I feel things change just a little bit with teachers. Teachers shouldn’t give up on students that don’t care, however teachers shouldn’t let these students get in the way of the student that do want to try and do want to learn. It is not fair to the students that are trying.
So, who is responsible for a student learning? It has to be both the student and the teacher. It is a two way street. The student needs to try, and to do the work they are given. The teacher needs to always be trying to teacher better and be giving an effort to teaching and not giving up on students.
It’s a two way street people. Stop blaming the teacher when your kid, or you screws around and doesn’t learn. As long as the teacher is trying (and is a half way decent teacher to start) it is not completely their fault.