Posted September 2, 2011on:
We mark Teachers’ Day in Singapore today. It is a school holiday and some schools have appreciation dinners and celebrations the day before. Newspapers do the obligatory articles on teachers and flower shops mark up their wares.
It is the one time in the year we take the trouble to appreciate our teachers. I guess that is why the staff at CeL “ambushed” me with a cake and why a group in my MLS118 class sent me an e-card.
It feels nice to be appreciated, of course. But like some educators, I didn’t answer the call to get cards and gifts once a year. We have birthdays and Christmas for that! ;)
If anyone asks, I like to tell them that I was probably born to be a teacher, but I learnt to become an educator. In fact, I am still learning to become one.
My parents were teachers. My wife is a teacher. I was a school teacher and I used to teach (read that as lecture) a lot.
I think that a teacher plans, delivers and grades content. A teacher juggles, monitors and disciplines. A teacher does as best as s/he can with unnecessary administrative tasks.
But an educator is a learner first. An educator does not let teaching get in the way of learning. An educator connects the dots and connects with people. An educator is focused not on academic results but on attitudes and values.
The newspapers that publish articles about great teachers are really describing educators. I don’t think that it is a matter of semantics. It is a practical world view.
We used to need 20th century teachers. But in an age of rapidly growing, evolving and readily accessible information, and one where technology challenges policies, value systems and belief systems, we need 21st century educators instead.