After teaching for the past one year, I got the first-hand experience of the meaning of “You can lead the horse to the water but you cannot make the horse drink it if it doesn’t want to.”
We can teach students the means of scoring, spot questions for them and give them as much practice as we can, but if the heart is not willing, there’s nothing we can do. I am sure a lot of parents had such frustrations.
Earlier this year, when we first started classes, we got to know this smart boy in Primary 6. His grades were not satisfactory- when I gave him extra assignments, he would get all of them wrong. However, he would be able to answer them if I asked him again in person.
I knew that if I didn’t do something about it, no amount of training would be useful, so I requested to have a private dinner with him. Just the two of us.
I brought him to a fancy restaurant with a sea view and asked him to order any food that he wanted. I told him I was spending time outside my work and classes because I care and we have faith in him. I fed him with my grandfather stories and tried to convince him that he should study hard.
Fortunately, in the months to come, I saw a change in him. He tried to improve. We play games in class where I test my students on their past mistakes. Very often, he would be the pillar in his team as he would be the one who remembered the correct answers.
His attitude has changed and he had become more industrious and sensible. And that’s most vital. Regardless of the eventual grade, I believe one will succeed in life if he has the right attitude.
That’s just one of the ways I try to get my students interested in studying.
I don’t talk down to my students and I have never scolded someone for not doing their homework (as that will probably backfire.)
We are equals in class and students can point out my mistakes. We play games to get them interested and camouflage the fact that they are doing drills.
If we have daily assignments, I try my best to return the work to them by the next day at the latest- I want them to know I am working hard with them and they can rely on me.
More importantly, just like how I want them to study with their heart, I care for them from the bottom of my heart. It makes a difference to have an adult/mentor figure genuinely concerned about your welfare.
I can’t say I will be successful in motivating every student I meet but I will definitely try my best for everyone. I aim to help as many students as I can and change them for the better within my means.
I think, that should be the approach to education.