Why Should I Teach?

In his book ” The Extra One Per Cent”, the psychologist Rob Yeung describes various mind sets which distinguishes the high achiever in any profession, vocation or activity from those who are average to poor in the same activities. According to Yueng it has little to do with educational attainment, background, or IQ. It seems to boil down to certain behaviours which add up to only that one per cent you need to succeed. Drawing on many various sources such as the ideas of the idea of ” Flow” by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_(psychology), Carol Dweck’ and her studies on ” Mindset” http://www.mindsetonline.com/  he explores how cherishing others, experiencing awe and having fun enhances your performance at work. Makes you more effective, productive and ultimately more successful.

Which brings me to the work with kids I will call, for want of a better term “reluctant learners”. I teach one-to-one in a boys school, and concentrate mainly on a subjects I love, which is English language and writing. The challenge is to communicate my enthusiasism to youngsters who, too put it bluntly, hate being confronted with a sense of failure every day and resenting being reminded of it just by the very fact of me taking them out of lessons and teaching them separately. I do not work in a typical school. However what I have noticed among boys, and no doubt girls, being forced to do things they find difficult a natural battle of resistance forms. Disruption, diversion, cheekiness, changing the subject all being tactics to avoid the discomfort of true confrontation which is staring at a page or screen with meaningless words.

Here we have the opposite of flow and a mindset which precludes openness and creativity for a subject which can liberate tem. Unfortunately its the paucity of words and the unimaginative learning materials provided creates a prison of inarticulateness which prevents my learners from really moving on. Years of feeling dumb in any subject takes its toll. The challenge is always to motivate them to just start to open up and see what they can achieve.

This where my question, ” Why Should I Teach?” come in and why Yueng is relevant. My own view is that the learners in question have been taught by practitioners so bored and ground down themselves by  the (non) educational process that they have failed to communicate their enthusiasm for their for their subjects and for teaching itself . Also the schools fail to notice or act on the needs of so called “borderline” pupils. So the dreamers, the Adders ( those with ADHD) and the “lazy beggers” get left behind, and that is where I come in.

For the work of Rob Yueng see http://www.robyeung.com/