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Challenges with Teaching English

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The core objective of education system is to bring out the best in students by shaping them into responsible adults who will be professionals with integrity. From the beginning of elementary school until graduation from college, students are urged to achieve and seek good grades, respect the authority and show kindness to others.

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Discipline and excellence are concomitant and it has been proven that an average student can easily achieve maximal efficacy in his/her studies if he/she become focused on specific objectives and blocks out distracting and destructing aspects in his/her life.

There are two major schools of thought on the main purpose of education system in the US. The first major postulated theory for having schools is the manufacture of competent and skilled workers for the existing businesses. The second theory is the development of learned, very responsible and highly ethical citizens with a great sense of morality.

The first theory on the existence of schools is very plausible according to the views of the major organizations in the business world such as the Business Roundtable and Achieve, which are a conglomerate of governors and key business leaders who believe that schools should just be factories for churning out skilled labor force.

Their selfish interests do not take into account the well-being and interests of students who might have personal goals and ambitions to achieve. The main purpose of these big players in education sector is to have a really big pool of qualified workers. Thus they will be able to weed out the incompetent and choose only the best of them all at very low wages.

Narcissistic business leaders have dug their claws into education system and the curriculum in many schools. The focus of many schools is to make students follow a narrow curriculum, which has regressed and almost abolished extra-curriculum activities, e.g. elementary schools have completely abolished recess so as to allow children time to focus on mathematics, sciences and the other vital subjects.

This has detrimental effects on the holistic development of students since schools will just be producing hard-working zombies with literally no life at all. The Business Roundtable was a major player in pushing for standardized tests so as to rank students in order of competencies and thus the No Child Left behind (NCLB) act was passed and took effect in 2004.

Education systems using business approach is unforgiving to failures. The system is designed to allow students who have encountered many challenges to drop out since they may get lost in the entire quagmire, which will not have any good consequences. It is clear to all stakeholders that the system is inimical to the personal development of the students.

The Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS), which is basically the largest school district in Wisconsin, is among the top five districts in the US in having the highest dropout cases and a very low level of reading comprehension. The steady fall in funding in the district, which operates on a large budget of one billion dollars, has always been cited as the major cause of this dismal performance though the inadequate competency of the officials in the district seems to be a major cause for this declining state of affairs, which threatens to leave the school district in a moribund state.

The re-emphasis on the neglected subjects and crucial areas such as the arts, music, social studies and physical education should be an opening agenda. The programs that help children facing adverse challenges should be set up so as to allow them to survive the harsh system too.

The second theory is that schools were established for the betterment of students and to make them respectable citizens. According to this postulate, students are encouraged to choose their own identity and it is the responsibility of the school to ensure that children are well guided in fulfilling their dreams and ambitions. Under this approach, students learn the value of helping each other to achieve greater heights and also the obligation to help the community as a whole.

Leading Adults is a Tall Order

Napoleon Bonaparte’s famous quote “a leader is a dealer in hope” becomes relevant to a young person in a profession where he/she has to lead adults who are older than him/her. The challenges associated with leading older people are associated with other confounding factors, and at a point in time one even questions their own legitimacy in that position.

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According to the great philosopher Aristotle, humility from a leader is a key factor, he advocated for early inculcation of obedience into the character of young leaders, he is quoted for having stated that he who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander. The function of leadership is usually to churn out more leaders and not to produce more followers, and in a situation where a leader is way younger than the ones being led, it becomes a very tricky affair in the motivation of the said followers.

Being a young teacher who has been given the responsibility of teaching adults has its challenges, and one of them is trying to motivate adult students without being arrogant to work hard in their studies. One of the major tests of a teacher is the results of students; adult students do not need to like their teacher, but if the results are dismal, then it is the teacher’s failure.

The other challenge is in cultivating unity among students in the class so that they may go the extra mile together and fill the knowledge gaps provided by the teacher. Without unity and motivation, it will be an exercise in futility trying to make the students feel the essence of their studies.

It is widely believed that education is the mother of leadership, but this brings along great responsibility. One has to learn how to be approachable without losing his/her own authority and respect. The openness of communication allows the teacher to learn weak areas of a student, and this helps to avoid problems in the future and also ensures that progress of a student follows an exponential curve.

The teacher must also learn to stimulate students to be innovative and creative in the way they perform their duties. The innovative ideas of students must be nurtured and cultured efficiently, and this goes a long way in motivating students. It is important to teach students how to deal with the massive amounts of information, especially when learning a foreign language and being aware of the current trends.

Learning English as a foreign language is hard for most adult students and it is even harder to teach it for them. Deriving some lessons from the English comedy “mind your language”, one can clearly see the frustrations of both students and their teacher, Mr. Brown, who truly wants his students to learn, but even their efforts are not enough to ease the learning process.

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