A day in an educator’s life is never dull. Amidst the chaotic happenings of the world, a ray of sunshine always shines through with hopes abundant when you are surrounded by eager minds willing to absorb the knowledge shared. Unless they somewhat choose to be ignorant!
Yes, IGNORANT! I spelt in capitals, showing how much emphasis is being given to the word. Children nowadays are content with the given information, enjoying being fed with a silver spoon. However, that attitude brings our children nowhere close to being able to equip themselves with the changing demands of our world.
Perhaps by now, you had started picturing the events that have unfolded which lead to this article. And if you guessed well, YES! I am an English Teacher!
Let us come back to the scenario that is racing through my mind.
A simple and easy lesson on idioms and proverbs left me in stitches. I cannot understand who is at fault for the current generation’s choice to be ignorant of simple phrases that perhaps we as kids would have heard a thousand times from our teachers or parents. Having said that, I do not mean to point fingers. But since everything is kind of at the tip of your finger with the infamous Google search and online Websters, one might wonder why the current generation of youngsters still have poor mastery of the English language.
The lesson I was conducting was based on idioms. What a fun way to use them and enhance your writing, flavoring it with all possible ways to entice and capture the minds of the reader. At the mention of the idiom “Dressed up to the nines,” I get giggles and chuckles from the kids.
“Miss, we don’t dress up to the nines, we pull out the nines!”
That moment got me stumped! Seriously? Both phrases are totally non-interconnected! Dressing up to the nines is something we often use as a positive comment especially if you choose to spruce up your looks for a special occasion. But pulling out the nines? (If you are clueless, rest assured you have not forgotten anything from school. This is just a teenage slang.)
I suppose from here, it is made to understand the power of the media and its uphold on the younger generation these days. When I calmly explained to the class, some enthusiastic learners were instantly transformed to a true episode of learning but there were a few who tried to shun it out by underestimating their abilities. I received an exchange of opinions like,
“Oh wow! That is heavy to know. Thank God I am only learning English as a Second Language! I do not have to squeeze my brains in order to master words. I’m happy with what I know!” rendering me absolutely speechless.
I totally agree that the English Language is not an easy language.
But nothing is easy in life. Once upon a time, even walking was difficult for all of us. At Pasxcel, I try to do away with the stigma that engulfs English as Second Language learners. The notion that as long as I manage the basics, I should be fine, and I am not willing to overwhelm myself with extra knowledge.
Most believe that learning all the difficult (interesting) words and expanding one’s vocabulary are only for those who want to learn English as a First Language. Let them try to be as good as the native speakers.
This is what I call ignorant by choice. This mentality of choosing to be ignorant has no place in my classroom!
I am happy to state that, that day after my lesson, I had definitely ignited the desire in the students to embrace how fun idioms can actually be. I ended the lesson feeling content that I somewhat managed to reach out and although this might seem like a needle in a haystack matter, it is still a lesson conducted and learnt. Slow progress is still progress!
I believe that each student regardless of their current ability should always seek to be the best. My job as an educator is to let them feel safe and eradicate the harm in trying. My classroom is a sandbox for them to experiment, to jump as high as possible towards perfection and fall back into the safety of my guidance.
Yes, I understand that most teachers (and students) are happy with being average. Most are complacent to a fault. However, that complacency stays out of my class. My class is the spot where true learning takes place. True learning requires courage and willpower to want more of one’s self. And that is what I demand of each of my students.
Written by Ms Nazreen, Master Teacher of Pasxcel Academy