Monday, 6 June 2011

“I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” Einstein

“I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”
Albert Einstein

Many have probably heard the saying, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.” It seems to me to be similar to Einstein’s quote. A teacher can’t make their students learn. It’s their job to provide the environment where children are encouraged to learn.

In my career, I tried to make the classroom a place where children felt comfortable and happy. For the young, it’s an important step to learning.

When adults are asked what they most remember of school, you usually hear stories of things that went wrong, of bullying, a teacher who hated them, bad marks, and other negatives. It seems these experiences are easier to remember but when asked about positive experiences the responses can be wide.

One of my greatest rewards in teaching has been contact with former students. Their positive feedback over the years tells me I had been on the right track to learning. Many have said they remember me as one of their best teachers or a person who inspired them in their career. One former student had told me she was sitting in an in-service with other teachers discussing those who have inspired them. When she mentioned me, the leader said she knew me.

What a buzz for a teacher to be remembered fondly by students now ranging up to around 40 years old. In an earlier blog, I quoted Henry Adams, “A teacher affects eternity; no one can tell where his influence stops.” Perhaps I have had some affect.

“I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.”

I have seen many teachers in my career who have been able provide positive conditions in which their students can learn. I have also seen teachers who seem to miss the mark. The students tend to know which teachers they really want to have.

We need to continue to encourage teachers to provide a positive learning environment and provide support for those needing help. It can take money and time but it’s worth it. After all, as teachers we’re there for the children. Investing in education is investment in the future.


One aside, I have been asked which school year is the most important in a child’s life. Many might argue it’s their final year when they try to gain access to universities, colleges or trade training. I’ve always felt it’s their first school year whether you call it kindergarten, prep, or Year 1. Capture their minds when young, encourage their learning, be positive and you can set them on a lifelong path to learning.

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