Teaching Youths of Today

I joined teaching profession in 1992 after having worked in the corporate world for a good 11 years. 16 years later I am still teaching 17-19 years old students.

Over the years, I see distinct differences between youths back in the 90’s and youths of today. Then mobile cell phones were not ubiquitous, internet were not a rage. Now, students sms messages secretly in classes and some even asked to be excused to take a call outside the classroom, presumably important enough to take the call during lesson.

Students are now more vocal and bolder. They choose to skip your lecture if they find that there are other more pressing matters to attend to, such as project deadline due for other subject. Some may even skip your lessons thinking that they can cope by last minute study just before the examination.

Youths today work to earn more pocket money and you find them dosing off during your lessons or not being prepared for the tutorials. You can reprimand them but you become unpopular with them.

More often, as lecturer, we worry that students do not understand the subject and fail it as a result. We put in unseen hours to help these students cope: by way of preparation of lessons, offering remedial lessons and even one-to-one coaching.

At the other end, thankfully, there are many good students who are a joy to teach. They accord you with respect and thank you sincerely. One class even gave me a T shirt that has Papa Smurf on it (which I had to declare and paid for it before I can retain it for keepsake) on the last day of tutorial lessons.

The greatest satisfaction an educator can have is seeing your students doing well, scoring distinction grades and A grades. It is one way for your students to show that you meant a lot in their learning journey. The other source of happiness is to see that you have helped the academically weaker students passed the subject, even as they took the subject at the second attempt.

So how can one handle teaching youths of today? First, youths do not want another adult (besides their parents) telling them what they can do or cannot do. They hate nagging. You can be a role model by doing the right things without articulating it. If you want honesty from students, be prepared to say that you were wrong on some explanations and then correcting them. If you want your students to have value of punctuality, you must be on time 100% of the time for your classes. If you want them to watch out for their classmates in time of needs, you must be sensitive to all students in your class and extend your helping hand when necessary. In short, you must have your own values in check in order to have the moral authority to mold them.

At the end of the day, do not just treat teaching job as just another job which pays. It goes beyond monetary values; the intangibles are imparting skill-set, knowledge and values during their growing up years, when they are still finding out who they really are.


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