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May 9, 2002

"Teachers teach because they care. Teaching young people is what they do best. It requires long hours, patience, and care." —Horace Mann


An early childhood trainer from India (and a member of the World Forum International Organizing Committee), Vijaya Murthy, shared these ideas in response to the April 22 ExchangeEveryDay, "Childhood Memories as a Training Tool" ....

"In the inservice programs I conduct, I take the teachers to their childhood experiences and ask them to list 3 persons who have influenced them tremendously . Then they are told to list the qualities these people possessed which impacted them. After this first round, I ask them to list 3 teachers who have impacted them and then list their qualities. One is often surprised that the first time it is very rare that teachers are listed as having impacted them to such an extent to be listed which is very sad. This issue is taken up later for discussion as to how as teachers we can influence our students greatly but it seems to be not happening due to wrong ways of handling perhaps.

"I then call for volunteers to share the qualities and to everyone's surprise the qualities listed are compassionate, understanding, helpful, organised and so on. Very rarely are the qualities like good in teaching listed. Thus they get an insight that the most important quality of a teacher, which is cherished by students, is sensitive, interpersonal relationships rather than cognitive abilities. We then also probe into why did we list persons in general and not go straight to teachers and we conclude that to be a good teacher one has to be first a good human being than anything else. Very powerfully and automatically the participants realise that they need to be very careful and concerned about how they handle students.

"Another way I do this is by asking teachers to recall the experiences they had with their teachers as children and list those which were encouraging, enriching and empowering and those which were discouraging, demotivating and negative. Then I ask them to extrapolate these to the present situation in the classrooms when they are with the children. This almost shakes them up and helps them to gain insight, understand and realise the ways they need to change or modify their behaviour while interacting with children. During the sharing sessions the teachers discuss the amazing breakthroughs they have had.

"Both of these workshops can be conducted with teachers from any level of the educational system. I have been conducting them for teachers from the preprimary to the tertiary level with equal impact. The only difference is the introductory discussion and the examples that vary. With a little variation it can be conducted for administrators and managers with instances of the support and guidance they received when they started working, vis-a-vis the present help and support they render to their people now as directors and managers.

"I agree, using childhood experiences is one of the most powerful tools to impact the behaviour of human beings."

For additional resources on teacher training, go to www.ChildCareExchange.com.


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