Effortless English Archives

Automatic English For The People

Sunday, January 01, 2006

"Good" Sucks

by AJ

Being a "good" teacher/tutor is a lot like being described as "nice'. In many ways, the word "good" is code for mediocre. And so when a student occasionally compliments me... calls me a "good" teacher... I wince.

The last thing in the world I want to be is a goddam "good" teacher. I admit Im an ambitious bastard-- I want to be "great". I want to create passionate students. I want them to look forward to my class every day. I want them to evangelize... to bring in friends and family... to "swallow the kool aid".

Whats the point of wanting anything less? My worst nightmare is to be one of those uninspired boring drones that dominated my educational experience.

And there's the problem. I dont have many role models for greatness. Few of us do. Most, like me, have had a very long string of pathetic teachers... with the occasional "good" one now and then. Writing this, I try to remember if I had any "great" teachers.... and no one comes to mind (though my HS US government teacher came close).

There's the frustration for me.... Ive got to figure this out on my own. I have firmly hit the "good" barrier... floundering in mediocrity, and am not quite sure how to break through.

My instincts tell me to look beyond the educational field. "Education" is, lets face it, a field populated with a larger than normal share of boring conformists.

I think we can find better role models among performers, athletes, and certain types of entrepreneurs. Professional speakers and trainers are a particularly rich field..... because these folks don't eat if they dont achieve a bare minimum level of competence. When I think of the kind of teacher I hope to become.... I think of people like Tom Peters. Whatever you think of his ideas... there's no denying he's a badass speaker who inspires passion.. who connects both intellectually AND emotionally.

Some politicians have this mojo too. Certain actors have it.

We, as teachers, can develop it too. Dont we owe it to our students to at least try? To at least strive for a modicum of excellence? To go beyond tired lectures..... and textbooks by the numbers?

In education we are fond of berating our students to "try harder", "take responsibility".... blah, blah, blah... but how many teachers follow this advice to its natural conclusions.

If I have a broad, overarching goal for 2006... this is it-- Greatness!