If something is worth learning, it’s worth learning from someone who knows better: teachers, coaches, mentors, gurus, senseis, shifus—learning from knowledgeable people is smart and part of human nature. But some teachers can cause far more harm to a student than good. These duds don’t encourage growth, they stunt it.
I’ve encountered quite a few of these bad teachers over the years (and heard stories of more). Here are a few of the ones you should avoid:
Have you ever been stumped by a question and then made up an answer on the spot? Then you know the secret to The Ad-libber’s success (if you can call it that). In his mind, not knowing something is worse than having misinformed pupils. He feels totally comfortable doing this, because who’s going to correct him? His students definitely don’t know better, and probably won’t find out the truth until long after they’ve escaped from under his wing.
This teacher’s in it for the power trip. He enjoys having authority over people, and ignorant, impressionable students are the best of all. You’ll often find him lording it over his students and requiring them do tasks ridiculously unrelated to what he’s teaching (i.e. carrying his things). He might even require his students to buy his book as “part of the curriculum.”
Teaching is just a job to this person, at it shows. He goes through rote training routines and lessons and doesn’t bother with baloney like “teaching to people’s strengths” or “encouraging growth.” He’s not totally useless (he does teach), but any star pupils will develop despite him, not because of him.
She’ll often have a laissez-faire approach to discipline (if she does it at all), and leaves students to their own devices while she chats on the phone. She’ll come to class or practice late and leave early, and claim “you only learn by doing”, even if it means doing it alone and picking up the wrong habits. She often confuses friendship with teaching and is far too quick to praise. Her students’ education suffers as a result.
This devil is all about the details. Every crook of the finger, orated syllable, and halting step becomes a reason to criticize. In the hands of a great teacher this kind of attention to detail is awesome, but The Microscope ignores the larger view in favor of nitpicking. Expect students with low self-esteem and poor motivation.
Have you ever encountered teachers like these? Share your stories in the comments!
Image from Flickr, by kattebelletje.