April 3, 2011 by Marcin.Wilczek
Wit scored the highest number of votes at 14, and I guess I can agree with the students on this one. A lesson taught in an interesting, and gripping, way can lead to better educational results than even the most informative solely factual lecture. There’s no doubt about it. And unlike a lecture, which can give students nightmares the night before, a witty class can keep them hungering for more.
What shocked me was the second position on the list – ‘bribability’, which ranked just below wit with 11 votes, but I guess I’m too old school to see the positives in this specific characteristic. After all, as teachers, we are supposed to be paragons of not only knowledge, but morality as well. As Will S. would say, ‘aye, there’s the rub!’ – morality and accepting bribes in any form don’t function hand-in-hand in any universe I know.
At rank 3 we have the somewhat vague kindness with 9 votes, and, again, I guess I could agree with the student body on this one. An understanding (although understanding should have its impenetrable limits)teacher will probably achieve better results than one that does every little thing by the book. Not to mention the fact that we are working with human beings, not machines, and relying solely on a set of laid out rules, with no adaptation of said guidelines to the specific situation will not yield anything good.
Next, at rank 4 we have a tie between frankness and naivety, two seemingly opposite traits, which gathered 8 votes each. And as much as I have to agree that in the field of research, naivety is a virtue, in the classroom, where it is replaced usually by gullibility, it will definitely not serve any educational purpose at all and in most cases will prove detrimental to the learning process. Neither is frankness too positive itself. Just ask the students that frankly expressed their anger at other students or the teacher.
Following these is a list of characteristics that seem extremely far fetched, but in the logical scheme of things work in the short-sighted favor of student procrastination. It comes as no surprise then that a minority of students voted for sickliness (4 votes) and laziness(2 votes) as the most important traits of a perfect teacher. ‘The more sick they are, the less classes we have’ and ‘the lazier they are the less work we have to do ourselves’, seem to be the points they arrived at. While they are true, one may of course continue the discussion by adding ‘the less classes we have, the less we will actually know’ and ‘the less work we have to do, the less we discover on our own’.
The final group of traits cannot be described with one sole label, but should nonetheless be viewed as one group, the ‘what do these have to do with teaching, anyway?’ group. Here we can find such gems as ‘tearfulness’, ‘affluence’ and ‘no criminal record’. The last one is actually a prerequisite for anyone who wants to work with children in Poland – and therefore, according to those 2 students that chose this trait, every teacher that they have class with is, indeed, perfect. And on this positive note, let’s continue the topic in the comments section!