Getting the message across with clarity
Photo: R.M. Rajarathinam
“Understand the problem from their point of view, age and level of emotion.”
MAINTAINING BALANCE: Teachers should understand the problem from the students’ point of view, age and level of emotion.
Explaining ‘Negative assertions’, a psychologist gives an example of a teacher, who often asked his students, “Did every one understand that?” and after a small gap of silence, proceeded with his lecture. Later, he was shocked when many of the students could not fare will in his subject.
The psychologist says that the teacher’s attitude is fine but skills are weak. No student would confess his incapacity or poor standard of understanding before others.
“Feel free to seek clarifications” would be a better choice. Questioning them on a few points from the lesson just taught is the best. “…Tell me and I forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand” is a Chinese proverb.
The trusted adviser
Impress them that you are a person with whom they can be comfortable and confide in. Earn the right to offer advice and never advise unless it is sought. Listen more to what is different, rather than what is familiar.
Understand the problem from their point of view, age and level of emotion. While giving an advice, add as many illustrations as possible, rather than quoting principles, but minimise using the word ‘I’. Don’t try to glorify your personality by romanticising your past experience and your emotional balance in similar situations of crisis. Never flatter a student. Qualitative compliment is recommended rather than general praise. Don’t say, “You are very intelligent”.
The student already knows it. Say, “It appears, you are working very hard to achieve all this.” More importantly, never criticise a student before others, particularly opposite sex.
A lecturer may have to handle two types of students: careless, who are in ‘I am o.k. you are not o.k.’ stage, and depressed, who suffer from inferiority complex and lethargy.
The former are to be handled with discipline and authority; the latter with sympathy and encouragement. You develop emotional balance with experience and sense of humour to defuse tensions.
Speak with expression, not monotonically. Use body language, eye contact, and vocal range.
Show the students that you have energy and authority over your subject. When you do not know, say so, quickly and directly instead of trying to imagine. They love your sincerity rather than your attempt to cover up your ignorance.
You might have been a rank holder as a student. But conveying at students’ level is different from possessing knowledge.
The student has hired you to educate him. Give him the reason and not the instruction.
“The test of a good teacher is not how many questions he asks his pupils that they answer readily, but how many questions he inspires them to ask him which he finds it hard to answer,” said Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.
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