That’s my five-year-old praising me matter-of-factly after I showed him how to brush his teeth properly. I was caught off-guard with his reaction to my three-minute demonstration. It was exhilarating– almost like winning the jackpot of the one-hundred-million Lotto draw. Whew, I did nothing much to earn that commendation, but as we are often told, kids tell no tales– especially if such kids happen to be “jailed” in a 67-square meter condo listening to and watching Hillsong kids’ live worship concert on DVD day in and day out. But such innocent quip has started to bug me to no end. It has become a cuckoo in my nest—it made me pause and think hard enough on what being a teacher is all about.
Eversince I took to heart my role as a homeschooling Mom, I made every imaginable effort to be the best home teacher I can be. I read books on homeschooling lent to me by a friend in church who also homeschools her kids. I surfed the net, downloaded voluminous references and compiled the same in a binder labelled “Homeschool Articles.” I frequented (and still do) Booksale for books I can use both for me and for my son’s supplemental references. I devoured every article on Teaching and Education, like a doe on the edge of a river panting for the crystalline waters before her. It came to a point I got overwhelmed by the reads, leaving me confused and exhausted to implement the principles I jotted down in my Mind Mapping notebook.
So much for theories. I could not transfer en toto everything I read to reality to benefit the hungry souls I vowed to nurture in our homeschool environs. After all, homeschooling is not about academics—otherwise we would not have pulled out Rovik from regular school. It is after all about life – active faith in the God who lives, character excellence, service and responsibility, flexibility and adaptability to life situations. It is a lifetime apprenticeship—the world is the classroom and every experience, properly evaluated, is the teacher. I am as much a learner as my sons are. As each family has unique life experiences, so is our approach to home education uniquely customized to our situation.
Dr. Howard Hendricks, a distinguished Christian educator author hit the nail right on the head on what true teaching is, in his book, “Teaching to Change Lives.” He cited seven proven ways to make teaching come alive, using the apt acronym TEACHER for these principles. I would not wish to elaborate what these are. (Better for you readers to buy the book. After all, nothing compares to the real thing. A paraphrase here and there is simply not enough to fully imbibe the nuggets of wisdom hidden between the Foreword and the Conclusion.) I picked out some thoughts, nonetheless to chew on, as I usher the kids to the world out there.
“Stop growing today, and you stop teaching tomorrow.” A teacher is a learner first. He examines himself, warts and all, and lives a balanced life, making progressive changes on important dimensions –intellectual (e.g. study and reading program, training and education), social (time spent alone, with people, at work and at play) and physical (handling of money, possessions and time).
“To educate means to draw out.” – As Mark Twain put it, “Education is not the filling of a bucket but the lighting of a fire.” As a teacher, my role is to motivate, coach or mentor. The student investigates and discovers. Corolllary to this is the brilliant definition of John Milton Gregory of the function of a teacher:
“The true function of a teacher is to create the most favourable conditions for self-learning. True teaching is not that which gives knowledge, but that which stimulates pupils to gain it. One might say that he teaches best who teaches least.” Dr. Hendricks further advises not to do for a student anything that he is capable of doing himself.
“The way people learn determines how we teach.” This involves knowing the students—their learning styles.
“Maximum Learning is always the result of maximum involvement.”
“Teaching that impacts is not head to head, but heart to heart.”
“The teaching-learning process will be most effective when both student and teacher are adequately prepared.”
As to the way I live out my role, I know it is still a long and drawn-out journey before I can truly exclaim I have come full circle as a life coach. Everyday is still a learning experience—a bump there, a bruise here, a drop of tear or two… these all contribute to my growth as I wear versatile hats in my own queendom. For as long as I keep in mind that I teach to change lives, in the process, I too shall continue to change—to move forward, and to experience my own pain for another being’s gain (my kids’ especially).