By Marli Meyer, Teacher Gr 9
Princess Diana once said: “I don’t go by the rule book. I lead from the heart, not the head”. This perspective truly resonates with me as a young teacher filled with energy and empathy.
All too often, we are so worried about people’s opinions of us that we lose ourselves. We are fixated on being the best and, in continually striving to outshine others, we lose our own sense of self-worth. I have also found that if you stay on this course then all too soon your self-respect becomes non-existent. This is not a healthy example for our youth.
So then, how do we set an example for our youth?
As a teacher with a very different outlook on education, I often find myself conflicted with “the system”. Too often “the system” does not cater for the child who is perceived to be “different”. The quirky kid, the kid that is fidgety in class and is diagnosed by “the system” as having ADD or ADHD then medicated so that s/he becomes more manageable.
I regard my teaching style as unconventional and non-traditional without flouting the essence of our purpose in terms of the curriculum.
As an Afrikaans teacher I have found that many of my learners only ever hear and speak Afrikaans at school. As challenging as this may be, I try my best to instill a genuine love for Afrikaans amongst my learners. I try to reveal to them that it’s not just about “sinonieme, homofone and spelfoute verbeter”. It is so, so much more. Poetry, literature, and life lessons are all part and parcel of this young language, this vibrant culture and this unique way of life.
An example of my methodology is to set an oral topic wherein learners had to detail how to hold a funeral for a water balloon. While some parents and colleagues may find this approach “whacky and weird”, I find that it makes the language interesting and fun. Best of all, it engages the learners in a way that reduces pressure and stress while also stretching their imaginations and language capabilities.
It is my standpoint that we, as teachers, often overlook the fun element in education and solely focus on academics. The days of reading from a textbook and expecting a learner to be interested and invested are long gone.
I therefore encourage all aspiring and current teachers to go within and unlock the lighthearted, the laughter and the light in their respective subjects and classrooms. The learners will follow willingly and enthusiastically!