Recently I had been running my polytechnic class smoothly. Everything was according to the suggested lesson plan, but nothing more. Unlike in the past, I didn’t come up with impromptu ideas and games to spice up the class. Everything just went… mechanically.
Today, the class completed the questions I assigned for them, and all were looking tired. Many were busy with their phones. I went through their solutions on the projected screen, but I could see that almost no one was listening.
A thought came to me: Why are they paying money to come here to feel bored?
So I asked a question to the class, “If you don’t need the certificates from this school, how much do I have to pay you to travel here and meet me every week?”
That got their attention. Some smiled. Almost all lifted their gaze from their mobile phone or their laptop to look at what I was up to.
One foreign student said, “Well, we have to pay a few thousand dollars per term to study here, that is what you need to pay us to come to school.” The class laughed.
That got me thinking.
We pay cinemas to enjoy a good movie.
We pay restaurants to enjoy a good meal.
We pay doctors to be treated and to get rid of pains, even though meeting doctors is mostly unpleasant.
Heck, we even pay fitness coaches good money to be shouted at, to do things we don’t want to, because we want killer bods.
One way to see it, is that schools have a stranglehold on young people’s future because they know they have to pass exams in schools, in order to get certificates. Then they can have a so-called better life. They don’t enjoy school. They don’t see the point of coming to school everyday.
That is why my student said, I have to pay her to come to school.
Class is enjoyable?
Class is encouraging?
Coming to class makes students happy and excited?
My students look forward to the interaction between me and them?
These are some worthy thoughts. I remember I used to have them. Sometimes, as I get lost in the busy-ness of teaching and life, I forgot about them. I became mechanical.
Time to remember why I teach. It’s not just to earn a living.
How much will I pay, to see my students every week, to see their smiles, and to hear stories of their lives?