Blog Post 6: Who is the teacher?: Aditi Narayan

This summer, seven of our undergraduate teacher education students and one intrepid faculty member are spending a month in Peru studying the educational system and discussing their own philosophies of education. They are writing and reflecting on their journey, and we are following along! Read on for excerpts and blurbs from Dr. Gibson and the students’ blogs. You can read more on Marquette Meets Peru and check back for updates here.  

Aditi Narayan

The process of teaching and learning is like a pair of cogs. They connect to one another and keep each other forever moving in the constant pushing motion in between each of the teeth. The idea that a teacher is meant to only teach and the student has to only learn is so outdated and absurd, in this day and age.

Hello Interwebbers!

Who is the teacher? That is a very big question that puzzles all who try to answer this question. This question has us thinking, initially, about the men and/or women who have instructed us on all the foundational subjects that we needed to understand in order to grow as human beings in this perpetually progressing world. Other teachers could be our parents, who teach us how to survive. They have taught us how to walk, talk, read, write, how to tie our shoes, ride our first bicycles, and more. They take care of us until we learn to take care of ourselves. Life is a very difficult teacher. Every moment teaches us something about how life works and how we work as beings living our lives. The word ‘teacher’ means something different for everyone. We have all had at least one teacher in our lives so far, whether it be a physical being or an abstract idea. So who is a teacher?

We have read many of Paulo Freire’s ideas on education and pedagogy. He writes about how teaching and learning come hand-in-hand in Pedagogy of Freedom: Ethics Democracy and Civic Courage (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9K8OLyuF8_TZWNRZmF1aFhQWEE/view). He heavily disagrees with the “banking system” (page 5 of 21) of education, where the teacher inputs the information and the students take in said information without formulating much of an output, or product of their learning. An example of this is a classic lecture-hall type lesson: A man or woman stands in front of a group of students rattling off all the information as the students take notes. As you can probably tell, I greatly disagree with this form of teaching as well. Freire tells us about how teaching cannot happen without learning and vais versa.

When education students start their studies, they make an unspoken vow to actively be a lifelong learner. We learn about how to teach students to learn in different ways. In the process, one thing that I have learned is that, while the students are supposedly being more actively involved in the learning process, they teach us, as teachers, how to be better. There is a balance maintained between students and instructors being the teachers and the learners. The process of teaching and learning is like a pair of cogs. They connect to one another and keep each other forever moving in the constant pushing motion in between each of the teeth. The idea that a teacher is meant to only teach and the student has to only learn is so outdated and absurd, in this day and age. Learning is all about asking questions about anything and everything. Teaching is all about testing one’s own understanding by guiding others in their understanding of the same topic.

The teachers that I have observed in the various schools here in Peru carry their classes in different fashions. The first reason for this is because I observed in different classrooms with different grade levels in different schooling systems. I was in a second grade (primary school) english classroom in La Inmaculada. The teacher, Sandra, gets her students’ attention with a video with a song in English. The students are accustomed to singing along with the song in English and paying attention to the lyrics and what the lyrics mean. The teacher is constantly learning about how her students learn and how she can take advantage of their behavior and large personalities to aid in her lessons. Over the last couple of days, I have seen my teachers at Fe and Alegria connect the lessons to the students’ lives. One science teacher, also named Sandra, started the lesson on orbitals and quantum numbers by asking the students about various ways that students use common NaCl (table salt) in their lives. This discussion led to how the sodium and chlorine ions create an ionic bond that is salt. Teachers all over the world create different environments in classrooms all over the world. From what I have observed, I realized that teachers are very passionate about what they are teaching their students and how they create their lessons to be innovative and creative. I hope, and strive, to become a great teacher where my students and I teach and learn from each other.

Until next time,

Aditi Narayan

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