Poem: Contrite Spirit
October 5, 2023
Why does the Catholic Church dedicate October to Mary?
October 5, 2023

The Learner vs The Teacher

By Denise Scott

Two weeks ago I had an experience that has changed my perspective on life and learning.

Joey Rivers in collaboration with UNESCO offered a 12 week free music workshop for persons in the Couva Community. I signed up for voice training. I’ve always wanted to be able to sing although since standard five I thought I was a horrible singer.

Since the voice training session was the later session I had arrived for the earlier session and my friend Debbie saw me “liming” at the back of the room and said, “Denise pick up a Quatro or a Guitar and stop wasting time!”

The session was easy and enjoyable and I could not help but relate it to a session I had many years ago in secondary school when I used my grandfather’s guitar but after the second session felt totally incapable of playing the guitar or any stringed instrument.

I was blown away by Mr. Rivers’ patience, it appeared that he understood the learning journey and he was not going to leave any student behind. Since the class included 7 year olds and 70 year olds all learning at the same time we were actually taught in a manner that served all of our needs. I felt elated

Still, on a high of how easy it was for me to play the Quatro, I began my vocal training session. Almost 40 years later I still have the memory of my primary school choir mistress saying “My God this child’s voice is horrible!” she brought another teacher to listen and they said “Yeah there’s no Sweetness in her voice”

So here I am now, our facilitator taught us some warming-up exercises and then we began singing. I kept waiting to hear that I made a bad note or to see her screw up her face because I did something wrong”. My trepidation clearly showed on my face and she kept asking me why I looked so in awe.

So here is my “Ah ha! Moment!” I asked myself, Was I incapable of learning to play the guitar or was my tutor not skilled enough at teaching it? Was my ten year old voice that horrible or were my teachers incapable of teaching me what needed to be done to bring out my best voice? Are we living in a world of slow learners or incompetent teachers?

When mediocrity is the norm it is really hard to show teachers that many of them are the problems. Teachers impact our lives forever. They are gifted with the task of training people to produce the best of what they are offering. But are they gifted or burdened and what percentage are capable of doing the job required?

If you have taught something and half of your class did not learn it, how do you move on? Do you think the mission is accomplished when you teach something or when your students learn it? If we have had the same syllabus for SEA for the last decade and so many of our young people are failing why aren’t our teachers being more accountable, we send children to lessons to learn it again, and since they all teach it the same way (mediocrity) our children fail and the cycle continues.