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My Geography teacher has a very, uh, interesting theory about the best way to ensure his students learn. Put briefly, he seems to believe that students should be indoctrinated into remembering the entire curriculum. He doesn’t seem like a bad guy or anything; he just frequently teaches in a very annoying way.

In about half our classes, we have to watch slideshows. These classes are divided into blocks of “listening time” and “writing time” — the former to have the slide explained to us (about three times over, while we glare at the slide), the latter to write it down. For the first few days of class, I was constantly being told off for violating these strict rules. How dare I not wait until “writing time” to write? And was I looking at the ceiling when I was supposed to be listening? (Please note, I WAS listening. He was rambling about top hats. I don’t know why he got so upset.)

The other half of our classes involve activities that aren’t watching slideshows — activities like answering dozens of dumb questions in our textbook (e.g. “Can the Middle East be considered a region?”), summarising case studies, or drawing map after map after map of the Murray-Darling Basin.

Last Thursday, my classmates finally began to complain about this system. “Why do I have to draw maps?” one of them demanded. “Do I LOOK like an Art student? This is Geography, man, I shouldn’t have to draw! Have you heard of photocopiers?”

Our teacher sighed. “Fine, I will tell you why we’re doing this. You see, the more I can make you hate what we’re studying, the more I can drill it into you and make it so frustrating and tiresome that you never want to see it again, the more likely you’ll be to remember it. Now I’ve made you draw the Murray-Darling Basin three times, do you think you’ll recognise it if it comes up on the exam?”

“I’ll tear it out if it’s on the exam!”

“No, you won’t. It’s all about making you remember. If you remember that you hate it, you’ll remember what it is, and as a result, you’ll be able to ace that exam.”

For obvious reasons, I can’t say I like this theory very much, but I also can’t deny that it makes a certain amount of sense. I articulated this thought with emphasis on the latter point.

My teacher said to me, “Ah, but I don’t think it works on you. You’re breezing through this whole course! You do all the work, very quickly, and you never complain about it. At this rate, I don’t think you’ll remember anything for the final exam.”

It remains to be seen exactly what my teacher’s plan is for making me remember the course. I hope his plan is to trust me to remember it myself. But we’ll see, won’t we?

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6 Comments

  1. “My teacher said to me, “Ah, but I don’t think it works on you. You’re breezing through this whole course! You do all the work, very quickly, and you never complain about it. At this rate, I don’t think you’ll remember anything for the final exam.””

    WHAT?! WHATTTTTTTTTT?!
    I am so sorry that you have to have a teacher like that. Hating something doesn’t make me remember it… Hating something makes me block it out of my memory.

    • Don’t worry, he’s not that bad. His style of teaching may be frustrating, but it’s certainly not horrible enough for me to have to block it out of my memory! He actually seems like a decent guy… just a little misguided.

      That said, if he starts showing us slideshows that don’t relate to Geography, then I’ll get worried.

  2. I know it seems frustrating but his method of teaching is actually one of the best ways to learn things! There’s no point writing stuff down as you hear it because that knowledge gets erased when you write more stuff down and it never stays in your brain. With the repetition thing, you get more exposure to the material, and everything you write is supposed to come from your head- which means you’ve learnt it. Unless this isn’t what he’s doing, in which case, weird.

    I had a teacher like this too. He told me that he wanted me to HATE my homwork so much that I’d do it first thing as soon as I got home so that I could get it out of the way. Which.. didn’t work. I just never did it.

    • I’ll admit that his strategy works, it’s just that other strategies must work just as well, you know? Repetition is one thing, but his strategy goes beyond that — it really is about making us hate the topic.

      Like I said, I’m not going to say it doesn’t work. I can repeat, word for word, the definitions we were supposed to memorise from his slideshow. However, I tend to think I’d understand what regions and resources are even without those definitions — it’s not like they’re hard words. We did not need to spend a WHOLE WEEK learning what they mean!

      I think there must be less frustrating, yet still effective, ways of teaching. As with your teacher, it doesn’t give me any motivation to do my Geography homework. It’s just… blah.

  3. Jess, I knew you felt strongly about the topic, but this is unexpected. Even I don’t go into such effort to complain about Mr. Grace’s ways of teachers. But I suppose you feel far more outraged about this (with me, I simply don’t like the subject, so I don’t care) – however, if it was a subject I enjoyed I would never shut up about it if Mr. Grace was teaching it to me. In fact I might take further action with the school…

    The only thing that annoys me about him (stupidity and immaturity aside) is the fact that he doesn’t explain any questions. He summarizes his presentation the night before and he goes through it – be it the slide show or a set of questions, he does it and that is it. There is just the structure he sets for himself. But then, when you ask him a question (about the work) he doesn’t provide you with the answer! And usually such answers may determine our next sac’s mark from a B to an A. He doesn’t have the basic capacity to answer a general question relating to the subject. That I find is highly annoying. I don’t believe he prepares us well for the subject, he’s treating our class as if we were middle-schoolers.

    • Oh, I’m not really outraged — irritated, yes, but that’s all. I don’t even really mind Mr Grace, I just can’t stand his teaching style. I think you’re right that we’re being treated like simpletons. That’s exactly why he irritates me! He’s quite authoritarian in his teaching, even though that’s not the personality he projects at all. He’s at his worst when we watch his slideshows. Being forbidden to write, except when he says we must, is such an arbitrary restriction — nothing bad would happen if he allowed us to write, he just feels like forbidding it. And he gets upset if we’re looking away, but if we’ve understood the material and he’s really boring, why shouldn’t we? What’s wrong with that?

      That’s annoying, and I also don’t like the way we have to do work on the same topic repeatedly until well after being thoroughly sick of it. However, I think it’s the style of teaching that suits half our classmates. Given a teacher who allowed us more freedom, most of them would do nothing. It suits them, but not us. Hmm.

      His failure to answer simple questions properly is annoying. But in that respect, at least he’s better than last year’s Geography teacher…


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