15 August, 2009

Illuminating Thoughts

Each of the following quotes either exemplifies critical thought, or illuminates a problem in human thought which critical thinking addresses.

But if thought is to become the possession of many, not the privilege of the few, we must have done with fear. It is fear that holds men back — fear lest their cherished beliefs should prove delusions, fear lest the institutions by which they live should prove harmful, fear lest they themselves should prove less worthy of respect than they have supposed themselves to be.
~ Bertrand Russell (Principles of Social Reconstruction)

You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees. An evil system never deserves such allegiance. Allegiance to it means partaking of the evil. A good person will resist an evil system with his or her whole soul.
~ Mahatma Gandhi

During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.
~ George Orwell

Big Government and Big Business ... will try to impose social and cultural uniformity upon adults and their children. To achieve this they will (unless prevented) make use of all the mind-manipulating techniques at their disposal and will not hesitate to reinforce these methods of non-rational persuasion by economic coercion and threats of physical violence. If this kind of tyranny is to be avoided, we must begin without delay to educate ourselves and our children for freedom and self-government. Such an education for freedom should be ... first of all in facts and in values — the facts of individual diversity and genetic uniqueness and the values of freedom, tolerance and mutual charity, which are the ethical corollaries of these facts.
~ Aldous Huxley: (Brave New World Revisited)

The voice of protest, of warning, of appeal is never more needed than when the clamor of fife and drum, echoed by the press and too often by the pulpit, is bidding all men fall in and keep step and obey in silence the tyrannous word of command. Then, more than ever, it is the duty of the good citizen not to be silent.
~ Charles Eliot Norton

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.
~ Bertrand Russell

The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.
~ Aldous Huxley

The shepherd always tries to persuade the sheep that their interests and his own are the same.
~ Stendhal

The great masses of the people…will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one.
~ Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, 1933

Any formal attack on ignorance is bound to fail because the masses are always ready to defend their most precious possession – their ignorance.
~ Hendrik Van Loon

The trouble with most folks isn’t so much their ignorance, as knowing so many things that ain’t so.
~ Josh Billings

I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.
~ Thomas Jefferson

I am mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, the sale of a book can become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal inquiry too.
~ Thomas Jefferson

Without censorship, things can get terribly confused in the public mind.
~ General William Westmoreland

So long as a man rides his hobbyhorse peaceably and quietly along the King’s highway, and neither compels you or me to get up behind him – pray, Sir, what have either you or I to do with it?
~ Laurence Sterne, 1759

Men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in their readiness to doubt.
~ H. L. Mencken

The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government, and to protect its free expression should be our first object.
~ Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, 1801

It is not only vain, but wicked, in a legislator to frame laws in opposition to the laws of nature, and to arm them with the terrors of death. This is truly creating crimes in order to punish them.
~ Thomas Jefferson, 1779

We are all tolerant enough of those who do not agree with us, provided only they are sufficiently miserable.
~ David Grayson

We learn from history that we do not learn from history.
~ George Wilhelm Hegel

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it.
~ George Bernard Shaw

There is no slavery but ignorance. Liberty is the child of intelligence.
~ Robert G. Ingersoll

The highest result of education is tolerance.
~ Helen Keller

Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.
~ Malcolm S. Forbes

Hastiness and superficiality are the psychic diseases of the twentieth century, and more than anywhere else this disease is reflected in the press.
~ Alexander Solzhenitsyn

The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression.
~ Thomas Paine, 1795

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
~ Edmund Burke, 1770

The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality.
~ Dante

We think so because other people all think so; or because – or because – after all we do think so; or because we were told so, and think we must think so; or because we once thought so, and think we still think so; or because, having thought so, we think we will think so…
~ Henry Sidgwick

To every complex question there is a simple answer and it is wrong…
~ H.L. Mencken

These quotes have been pulled from a number of resources, and many can be found in any good book on famous quotations.

I think critically, therefore I am

Courtesy: www.criticalthinking.org/

Teaching students to read and understand a text properly is essential to their intellectual survival in a complex world, says Linda Elder

About 15 years ago, while teaching psychology, I happened upon an article on critical thinking. I had long been interested in the workings of the human mind, but I lacked the broader perspective on the mind that a rich conception of critical thinking can offer. What I knew for certain was that I was dissatisfied with my teaching. I felt I had a reasonably sound grasp of psychology, but no clear path for reaching my students. I knew that the art of questioning was an important instructional approach, and that written assignments should be an integral part of teaching. I just didn’t have the tools to serve the purpose.

Once introduced to critical thinking, my perspective broadened dramatically, as tools for developing the mind became much more vivid, accessible and concrete. By studying the theory of critical thinking and tenaciously applying it to classroom practice, I began to see more clearly how to approach content as a mode of thought, rather than as fragmented bits of information. I began to see the intimate connection between thinking and learning, to see how to intervene in thinking deliberately and constructively to deepen one’s understanding, and to interface the content of my subject with the values and motivations of students.

I also began to appreciate the difficulties in cultivating the intellect – both my own and that of students. When deeply understood, critical thinking offers a network of concepts and principles for developing the mind. There are copious effective strategies for fostering critical thinking, but developing the human intellect is a messy process. It is often confusing, both for teacher and student. It isn’t procedural. It can’t be taught through formulas. It isn’t neat and tidy. But it is deeply rewarding when we grasp its significance and begin to work it out for ourselves.

In 1980, Richard Paul, a pre-eminent authority on critical thinking, established the Center for Critical Thinking, and the same year it hosted its first international conference. Since then, the centre has worked towards the cultivation of critical societies through the reform of education. In 1990, in an open letter to educators, Paul summed up the problem that a robust conception of critical thinking addresses.

“Many college and university professors say they have little time to focus on the students’ thinking because of the need to cover content. These professors fail to see that thinking is the only means by which the mind digests content. They fail to see that undigested content is content unlearnt or mislearnt. They fail to see that all content is embedded in ideas, that ideas have logical connections, that logical connections must be thought through to be grasped… Furthermore, though this problem is ancient, the negative consequences are daily becoming more and more significant. The nature of professional and everyday life increasingly demands critical thinking. Indeed the cost of generating a growing mass of uncritical thinkers as workers and citizens is staggering… Intellectually undisciplined, narrow-minded thinking will not solve increasingly complex, multidimensional problems, let alone provide the basis for democratic decision-making.”

Critical thinking forms the heart and soul of every subject because its concepts and principles are presupposed in, and give rise to, the logic of every subject. Accordingly, teachers use critical thinking concepts in approaching their disciplines (albeit often implicitly and subconsciously). If we are to effectively address the challenges facing us as a species, and if we are ever to create truly critical societies, we need to take thinking more seriously in every part of human life, and certainly in teaching. When all is said and done, however highly we may rate our educational programmes, schools, colleges, universities and, yes, even our own classes, students are not developing the intellectual skills and character traits they need to survive in an increasingly complex world.

Thankfully, critical thinking is accessible, to some degree, to all who would enter its doors. From the beginning, the most basic principles are fairly easy to grasp. What is more, the process of translating principles into strategies is reasonably accessible. At the Center and Foundation for Critical Thinking we have developed many resources for incorporating critical thinking into instruction, tested over many years with students and faculty. Of course, teaching for critical thinking is an art, not a science; there are an unlimited number of ways to cultivate the intellect.

Let me offer, by way of example, one set of instructional activities I have found to be highly effective in fostering critical thinking. These activities are most powerful when repeatedly used within a term, focusing on the core content of the course. Collectively, these structures develop students’ abilities to read closely, write substantively and reason analytically. They enable students to empathise with a broad range of views, even (perhaps most importantly) with those views contrary to their own. These activities illuminate for students the fact that articles, chapters, essays and other written works should be viewed as products of reasoning that, in most cases, can be intellectually analysed and assessed.

There are four parts to this instructional process. As you read through this series of activities, remember that any of the details can and should be contextualised to fit the situation, student group, and so forth.

Part one: reading closely

Students are often asked to read, but they generally do not understand what it means to read closely. They do not understand that to do so presupposes disciplined reasoning. Students seldom use reading to improve their thinking or thinking to improve their reading. They don’t see the connection between thoughtful reading and living the life of a reasonable person. I introduce close reading to students by first explaining that to read for deep understanding, they must learn to actively engage in a silent dialogue with the author. I emphasise that, if they are to become educated people, it is essential that they develop their ability to read for deep understanding and that they consistently do so throughout the course of their lives.

In this activity, then, the purpose is to teach students how to read a text closely. The basic design entails students working together in groups, focusing on an assigned text. Students take turns reading the text aloud, interpreting it, and then getting feedback from the other group members on their interpretation. Here is the structure I suggest:

Students working in groups of three are assigned a text to read together. Student A reads one paragraph aloud, periodically stopping and stating in her own words what she understands each sentence to be saying. After each act of interpretation, students B and C either agree with the interpretation or offer a different one. Then student B takes the next paragraph, and the same process continues (with A and C giving feedback on each interpretation). Student C takes the next paragraph, and on it goes with one student reading, interpreting and receiving feedback from the other two students on the original interpretation until you (the teacher) end the activity or the reading is completed.

Before beginning this assignment, I remind students that the process should entail mutual participation and support, rather than passivity or conflict. The idea is to work together toward the most reasonable interpretation of the text. I may, as I often do, model the kind of feedback I am looking for from students. For instance, I may say something like “I am interpreting this a little differently than you seem to be doing. I agree with this part of your interpretation, but in this sentence, I think the author means X rather than Y. Do you agree, or are you still seeing it another way?”

Part two: analysing the text

Once students are able to carefully read a text, they are in a position to analyse it. It is important for them to understand that any essay, article or chapter in a text can be explicitly analysed as a product of reasoning. Here are the primary questions I ask students to answer in analysing the text (in a written assignment):
• What is the author’s fundamental purpose?
• What is the author’s point of view with respect to the issue?
• What assumptions is the author making in his or her reasoning?
• What are the implications of the author’s reasoning?
• What information does the author use in reasoning through this issue?
• What are the most fundamental inferences or conclusions in the article?
• What are the most basic concepts used by the author?
• What is the key question the author is trying to answer?

Part three: sharing papers and giving feedback to one another

After students have completed part two as an out-of-class assignment, they are ready to give and receive feedback on their papers. Working in groups of three, students take turns reading their papers aloud, periodically stopping to allow other students to give feedback. It is essential that, in giving feedback, students use intellectual standards – for example, clarity, accuracy, relevance, depth and breadth. In this activity, the students are focused on helping one another become clearer in their writing, more accurately represent what the author is saying, more deeply understand the author’s argument, more logically present the author’s reasoning, and so forth.

When students are working in groups, I monitor and encourage the accurate assessment of thought. Thus, I will periodically stop the feedback process and again model the thinking I would like to see. I may say, for example: “Nina commented on the lack of clarity in Josh’s purpose. This is what I am looking for – the explicit use of intellectual standards.” Or, “Seth pointed out that some of the information mentioned by Susan wasn’t actually in the text. This was a good intellectual move. I suggest that the group now look at the original text for information that Susan can include.”

Part four: speaking in the voice of the author

Having closely read and analysed the text and compared written analyses with those of other students, students are now in a position to role-play the thinking of the author. Roleplaying an author is, in one way, the ultimate test of understanding, by saying in essence:

“I will enter the mind of the author and speak as if I were the author. I will try to answer any questions you may have about the text by adopting the voice of the author and will answer your questions as I think the author would. I will speak in the first person singular. I will try to be the author fully and truly for the purpose of this exercise, even if, and most especially if, I disagree with the author.”

To role-play an author, students need a partner who has read the text and is willing to ask important questions about it. Responding to questions forces students to think within the author’s logic. Practising speaking within the voice of an author is a good way to get a sense of whether students have absorbed the core meanings of a text.

In this activity, one student takes the role of the author, speaking in the first person. The other student asks probing questions, using the questions in part two as guidelines. The student who is questioning will lead the discussion, perhaps beginning with the first question, “What was your purpose in writing this article about people who live in absolute poverty?” This question might be followed up by any of the following questions: “What were you assuming about this issue when you wrote this article?”, “What information did you use in coming to your main conclusions?”, “Was there any essential information relevant to the issue that you might have excluded, either intentionally or not?”, “What are some important implications of people taking your line of reasoning seriously?”, “What are some important implications of people failing to take your line of reasoning seriously?”

When we approach teaching with activities like these, using critical-thinking principles to process academic content, we honour and develop the intellects of students. We engage them in the thinking we want them to do. We help them recognise that the only way to learn any important set of ideas is to think those ideas into their thinking using their thinking, and to do so critically. With such an approach, we do a lot of modelling; but we place the responsibility for learning on students’ shoulders. Most importantly, we help them develop the intellectual skills, ability and character they need to reason through virtually any problem or issue, in any subject or discipline. We help them gain the intellectual tools they need to survive successfully and fair-mindedly in the complex and unpredictable world they face.


Linda Elder is an educational psychologist, and president and fellow of the Foundation for Critical Thinking, a non-profit organisation that seeks to foster critical societies through education and social reform.

14 August, 2009

'Winning' By Jack Welch with Suzy Welch

Reviewed by C. Radhakrishnan

Jack Welch, famous for being a respected business manager and former CEO of the American General Electric (GE) conglomerate and for his popular book called "Jack: Straight from the Gut". It's not frequently that an executive of Jack Welch's calibre shares his insight into management and management philosophy.

The book, ‘Winning’ has evolved from thousands of questions asked of Welch when speaking to audiences around the world. When he speaks, anyone who wants to learn to run an institution more effectively should pay attention. I have come to know about him from Dhruv Academy Library. This is the first book I have borrowed from the amazing collection of books in our library.

I was fascinated to learn that Jack Welch's education background wasn't in business. He has a doctorate in physics. He is the outstanding example of General Electric's management development program. His honest, be-the-best style of management became the gold standard in business, with his relentless focus on people, teamwork and profits.

Welch starts out ‘Winning’ by explaining what a mission statement is. Instead of platitudes about quality and service, Welch believes an effective mission statement should answer one question, "How do we intend to win in this business?" For example, the mission statement at GE from 1981 through 1995 said it was going to be "the most competitive enterprise in the world" by being No. 1 or No. 2 in every market. The mission statement guided the corporation's management to fix, sell or close every underperforming business that didn't meet the corporate requirements.

Once the mission is established, a company should define its values. The corporate values are behaviours, how the mission is to be carried out to win. Values, he says, “people must be able to use them as marching orders because they are the ‘how’ of the mission, the means to the end – winning.”

In the first part, he stresses the significance of candor - open communication - to business success. When an institution has a high degree of candor, everything operates faster and better. In some companies, people are afraid to communicate straightforwardly or put forth ideas that stimulate real debate. Presenting new ideas or criticism of practices with candor brings issues to the forefront so they can be dealt with much more quickly. I feel it’s applicable to educational institutions too.

In people management he says, “You’ve got the right players on the field – that’s great start. Now they need to work together, steadily improve their performance, be motivated, stay with the company, and grow as leaders.” For this to happen we have to place the right people at the right position in the field but many times people go wrong here and the whole setup collapses even after having talented people.

The more controversial comments in ‘Winning’ may relate to differentiation and managing people. According to Welch, managers should assess their employees and separate them into three categories of performance: the top 20%, middle 70% and bottom 10%, then act on the distinction. The top 20% should be treated as stars, rewarded and nurtured. Management of the middle 70% should focus on training, positive feedback and thoughtful goal setting, including identifying people with potential to move up and cultivating them. The bottom 10% has to go. Welch sees terminating these people as a humane action that may free these employees to pursue successful careers at companies and in pursuits where they truly belong and at which they excel. I wish, this must happen in our schools, then the life of many ‘so called teachers’ could be saved and students learning experience would become more enjoyable and purposeful.

This is just a sample of Welch's corporate wisdom. The book is meant to big organisations, but there is information here that can be translated and adapted by entrepreneurs, smaller companies and edupreneurs. I really feel many of the management strategies of this book are very much applicable to educational institutions like schools in our country. At the end in ‘Here, There and Everywhere’, Welch includes questions of his philosophy with responses. If you are concerned with running an organisation/school/college more effectively, you will want to read and study Winning.

Book Courtesy: Dhruv Academy Library, Sangamner
To buy this book online: Winning

07 August, 2009

Centre of Excellence

In a school, excellence is not just about what the school does, but also how the school does it. Excellent schools are about simultaneously “doing the right things” (i.e. the end product) and “doing things right” (i.e. the process).

A centre of excellence is not created overnight neither a person alone can do it. It is the result of consistent efforts of all involved in the process. Management support, Parent’s concern, Principal’s vision, Teacher’s role and suitable environment are the prerequisites of a good school.

“The three R’s of our school system must be supported by three T’s – Teachers, who are superior; Techniques of instruction that are modern and Thinking about education which places it first in all our plans and hopes.”
(Lyndon B. Johnson)

How does one make a school a centre of excellence?

1. Believe in excellence and be passionate about it. Everything we do must be with a winning attitude and 100% conviction. We must pursue it not only because it delivers better results but because we believe in it and are obsessed by it. The belief should permeate through the organisation.

2. Have faith and belief in our ability to do better. This conviction comes from collective self-confidence and every success further reinforces it. Excellence then becomes a way of life.

3. Excellence goes beyond perfection. It is about doing the best we can and doing it quickly. Excellence requires speed and timeliness as much as it requires perfection.

4. We must understand the term ‘excellence’ as it applies to us. Excellence is a relative concept in a changing world. We cannot be the best in everything we do. We must therefore define what we are or would like to be the best at and accept what some one else can do better. We must concentrate on our core competencies.

5. Create processes that enable excellence. And we must have an in-built strong foundation of technology that keeps these processes updated.

6. Create culture of teaming. We cannot have pockets of individual excellence. The teaming culture then spreads to the rest of the organisation. We need a distributed perspective to leadership that would not be possible if any person worked alone.

7. We must invest in excellence for the future. Though the future is uncertain and may seem distant, we need to prepare ourselves for the change it will bring. There is a temptation to sacrifice the future for short term gains. However strategic planning for the long term and the future roadmap should be made an integral part of school planning. Schools have to prepare students for the 21st century which is characterised by a transforming workplace and economy, a world too complex for an individual to fully understand and a pace of change that requires high degrees of flexibility and tolerance for uncertainty.

8. Excellence demands humility especially when we have reached the peak of excellence and there seems nothing further to do. We need an open mind to look at things differently and allow new inputs to come in. Otherwise there is a real danger of becoming complacent or arrogant.

11 Rules for New Teachers

C. Radhakrishnan

New teachers are often placed into an awkward and stressful situation, not really sure of their authority and sometimes not even placed with veteran teachers who are much help. These tips can help new teachers as they begin their first teaching assignments. Please note: these are not suggestions for how to approach the students but instead for how to most effectively succeed in your new teaching environment.

1. Be On Time
Punctuality is very important in the 'real world'. If you are late, you will definitely NOT start out on the right foot with your colleagues and students. Even worse, if you arrive after 5 to 10 minute a class has begun which is supposed to be your teaching session, you are placing yourself in an awkward situation in front of the students.

2. Dress Appropriately

As a teacher, you are a professional and you are supposed to dress accordingly. There is nothing wrong with over dressing during your student teaching sessions. The clothes do help lend you an air of authority, especially if you look quite young. Further, your dress lets the superiors know of your professionalism and dedication to your assignment.

3. Be Flexible

Remember that the academic heads have pressures placed upon them just as you have your own pressures to deal with. If you normally teach only 4 classes and the principal/vice principal asks that you take on extra classes one day because he/she has an important meeting to attend, look at this as your chance to get even further experience while impressing your dedication to your higher-ups.

4. Follow the School Rules

This might seem obvious to some but it is important that you do not break school rules. For example, if it is against the rules to chew gum in class or in the campus, then do not chew it yourself. If the campus is 'mobile-free', do not use mobiles during your duty time. This is definitely not professional and would be a mark against you when it comes time for your superiors to report on your abilities and actions. Strictly adhere to ‘no touch, no shouting and no branding’ Philosophy. Let the children blossom the way God endowed them. Remember to become a ‘good guide’ rather an ‘instructor-teacher’ of a traditional school.

5. Plan Ahead
If you know you will need copies for a lesson, do not wait until the morning of the lesson to get them completed. Our school has procedures that MUST be followed for copying to occur. If you fail to follow these procedures you will be stuck without copies and will probably look unprofessional at the same time. In short avoid eleventh hour preparation. Prepare and keep ready all teaching aids/materials one day in advance. Suppose you need ‘Smart Class’, ensure that it is entered into the register kept for it and if possible remind the attended in charge in the morning to provide the system key right time in the class. For using ‘Smart Class’ it is essential to spend sufficient time in the resource room with the Educomp Resource Coordinator.

6. Befriend the Office Staff
This is especially important if you believe that you will be staying in the school possibly for a long time. These people's opinions of you will have an impact on whether or not you are good team player. They can also make your time during student teaching much easier to handle. Don't underestimate their worth.

7. Maintain Confidentiality
Remember that if you are taking notes about students or classroom experiences to turn in for writing in magazines or news papers, you should either not use their names or change them to protect their identities. You never know who you are teaching or what their relationship might be to your superiors. Further, if you have any negative opinion regarding any class or institution as a whole that shouldn’t come in your writing either directly or indirectly. It’s always better to show/appraise your superiors at least informally, what you want to publish.

8. Don't Gossip
It might be tempting to hang out in the teacher room and indulge in gossip about fellow teachers and superiors. However, as a new teacher this would be a very risky choice. You might say something you could regret later. You might find out information that is untrue and clouds your judgement. You might even offend someone without realising it. Remember, these are teachers you could be working as subordinate some day in the future.

9. Be Professional with Fellow Teachers

Do not interrupt other teachers' classes without an absolutely good reason. When you are speaking with your senior teacher or other teachers on campus, treat them with respect. You can learn a lot from these teachers, and they will be much more likely to share with you if they feel that you are genuinely interested in them and their experiences.

10. Don't Wait to the Last Minute to Call in Sick/Emergency
You will probably get sick or urgent personal work at some point during your stay in school and will need stay home for the day. You must remember that the substitution arrangement should be made for the class during your absence. If you wait until the last minute to call in, this could leave your superiors in an awkward bind making them look bad to the colleagues and students. Think what happens to the institutional prestige, if a class goes without a teacher and what students will transpire to their parents and friends out side. Call as soon as you believe you will not be able to make it to class/school.

11. Learn to Dream and Facilitate to Dream
All teachers are expected to dream high professionally and personally and the same should be imparted to students. If there is no dream, there is no desire, no goal, no motivation, no innovation and finally no life. We must dream of moulding world class innovators, entrepreneurs, administrators, politicians, social workers, educators, engineers, doctors and above all good human beings who can accommodate and adjust with all kinds of differences.

06 August, 2009

Youngsters….. Think twice before choosing teaching career! Once chosen Commit!

C. Radhakrishnan

Teaching is truly a noble profession. It is also a very time consuming one, requiring a commitment on your part. Teaching can be very demanding but can also be extremely rewarding. Here are few things you should consider before taking up teaching as your chosen career.

1. Time Commitment

In order to be a successful teacher, you need to understand that the time you are at work - those 7 to 8 hours - really must be spent with the students. This means that creating lesson plans, developing innovative teaching aids, preparing worksheets and other grading/evaluating assignments will probably take place on "your own time." Further, to truly relate to your students you will probably be involved in their activities - attending sporting activities and school plays, preparing children for morning assembly, or going on field trips with your students for various reasons.

2. Remuneration

People often make a big deal about teacher pay. It is true that teachers do not make as much money as many other professionals, especially over time. However, each state, central government and private schools can vary widely on teacher pay. But once you prove yourself, the respect, the fame and even money will come on your way. Further, when you look at how much you are being paid, make sure to think of it in terms of the number of months worked, i.e. the number of holidays you can enjoy.

3. Job of Contradiction
Teaching is an odd profession, both respected and pitied at the same time. You will probably find that when you tell others you are a teacher they will in fact offer you their condolences. They might even say they couldn't do your job. However, don't be surprised if they then go on to tell you a horror story about their own teachers or their child's education. It is an odd situation and you should face it with your eyes wide open.

4. Social Expectations
Everyone has an opinion of what a teacher should be doing. As a teacher you will have a lot of people pulling you in different directions. The modern teacher wears many hats. They act as educator, coach, nurse, career advisor, parent, friend, and innovator. Realise that in any one class, you will have students of varying levels and abilities and you will be judged on how well you can reach each student by individualising their education. This is the challenge of education but at the same time can make it a truly rewarding experience.

5. Emotional Commitment

Teaching is not a desk job. It requires you to "put yourself out there" and be on each day. Great teachers emotionally commit to their subject matter and their students. Realise that students seem to feel a sense of "ownership" over their teachers. They assume that you are theirs’ and only for them. They assume that your life revolves around them. It is not uncommon for a student to be surprised to see you behaving normally in everyday society. Further, depending on the size of the town where you will be teaching, you need to understand that you will be running into your students pretty much everywhere you go. Thus, expect somewhat of a lack of anonymity in the society.

Quotes on Teachers and Education

These quotes were written for and about teachers and education. Enjoy!

1. "Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater.” ~Gail Godwin

2. "If you would thoroughly know anything, teach it to others.” ~Tryon Edwards

3. "A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on a cold iron." ~Horace Mann

4. "When a teacher calls a boy by his entire name, it means trouble." ~Mark Twain

5. "Education, then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of man...." ~Horace Mann

6. "A master can tell you what he expects of you. A teacher, though, awakens your own expectations." ~Patricia Neal

7. "The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires." ~William Arthur Ward

8. "A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary." ~Thomas Carruthers

9. "I cannot teach anybody anything; I can only make them think. ~Socrates

10. "The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery." ~Mark Van Doren

11. "Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it. " ~Samuel Johnson

12. "The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change." ~Carl Rogers

13. "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance." ~Derek Bok

Parent-Teacher Conference Questionnaire

What can Educators seek from Parents?

1. What strengths do you see in your child?
2. What does your child say about school?
3. What kinds of activities, at school or elsewhere, seem to frustrate your child most?
4. What kinds of activities excite your child? What does he/she play?
5. Tell me about your child’s peers and social relations? Who does he or she socialise with outside school?
6. What kind of responsibilities does your child have at home?
7. What goals do you have for your child?
8. What goals does your child have?
9. What is your child’s favourite subject or activity?
10. What do you like me to know about your child?

What can Parents seek from Educators?

1. Hoe does my child interact with you and other adults?
2. How does my child interact with classmates?
3. What activities engage or frustrate my child in class?
4. What does my child do with unstructured time?
5. What activities hold my child’s interest the longest?
6. How does my child work in teams?
7. Who do you team my child with and why?
8. Based on your experience with my child, what kind of classroom structure or instructional style would you recommend next year?
9. What are my child’s strengths?
10. What areas need improvement?