The Number 1 Enemy of a Good Teacher

Photo by Shubham Sharan on Unsplash

Even though I would consider myself a good student, there were times when it doesn’t just add up. In a few cases, the teachers were quite good. But the lessons weren’t sticking.

The popular assumption when a good teacher can’t pass knowledge to a student is that something must be wrong with the student. And this is not true. Yes, students can be bad, but even the bad students give attention when demanded.

Back in the day, I attended a physics class that has stuck with me till now.

I can’t remember any other physics class but I can recall this particular one. Not everything, but the beginning (and most important) part of the class.

We were due to start a new topic. It was the same teacher, the same environment. Whether our teacher just read a book, I had no idea. But he started the class differently.

He told us something like this:

I want to teach you something today about a wanted criminal. Everybody wants him. He has succeeded in escaping all kinds of mechanisms to trap him without being detected. The US Government declared him wanted and gave the warrant for him to be caught and identified. But he was too sleek. He went through everybody’s hands again and again. But finally, scientists found a way to catch him. And since then, he has ceased to be a criminal. Then, they declassified his documents and allowed his identity to be taught in schools around the world …

I can remember that moment. I was waiting for the name. I liked action movies and still do, so the storyline won me over. Can you guess what that topic in physics was?

C’mon, guess …

Latent Heat.

I never forgot that lesson for some reason. Now I understand why.

Same teacher, same classroom, same student. What was different? And by the way, the teacher went on to teach in his usual manner. Plus, that was the only time he used that technique. Maybe he stopped because no one encouraged that style.

The difference is the major problem good teachers have. And in case you haven’t figured it out, the number one enemy of good teachers is:

Disinterest (on the part of the student)

You cannot teach interest. Without interest, you cannot get attention. Without attention, even the simplest subjects will become hard for your students.

That little folk story our physics teacher started with, even though we knew it was a folklore, aroused our interest in the lesson. And I think that topic was one of the best understood in physics in our class. And for those familiar with the topic, it is definitely not one of the easiest.

Never assume that your students are interested in the topic you came to teach. Even if they are interested, assume they are not.

It is better to arouse interest and not teach anything than to teach everything to an uninterested bunch of students

I noticed this at the university also. Lecturers who can’t arouse interest are those we know as horrible.

Even if you can’t teach, if you can arouse interest, your students will be out-of-this-world.

Just try this once and see how they do at a pop quiz.

I hope you’ve learned something


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