If you want good education, stop blaming teachers for failure


Education is something everyone knows is important. In Malaysia, our government spend billions on improving education, and I bet this is the same case in any country.

We want the best for our kids and it seems spending big is one of the many ways.

Before I further go on, let me stress here first and foremost that this is NOT ABOUT THE MALAYSIAN EDUCATION SYSTEM. I know better than to question education policies or the Malaysian education system which is one of the best. So lets leave the Malaysian education system out of this article.

Okay, so I am a teacher, and I have seen and read numerous rants and post about education on social media. In fact, this ‘piece’ of mine is inspired by one of the post I read.

You see, I think that everyone, parents most importantly, are too fanatic about their children excelling in education without knowing what education and teaching is all about. I think that most parents have got the idea of ‘education and teaching’ wrong.

Most parents, and I say ‘MOST’, education means having good grades, and being top in the class. It is reflected by the ‘As’ you get, and the good grades written in a report card.

This means that everyone involved indirectly in the line of education will get a certain amount of pressure to ensure children under their care excel, and get the best results.

In my small experience as a teacher, there are three basic levels in education which is the administrators (which is the government (education ministry) and the parents, the implementers (the teachers and the educators), and finally the students, with the administrators and students able to dictate results and determine what is deemed as ‘Grade A’ students.

The implementers are left helpless as they need to either answer for a failure, or blow their minds out to ‘educate’ their students to be ‘Grade A’ students.

Thousands of students go to a school.
Thousands of students go to a school.

Not the easiest task considering there are almost 20-40 different minds in every classroom, having different EQs and IQs.

When a student fails, the implementers are blamed for numerous things, but primarily, their incompetence in delivering the acquired results. The attitude of students towards their lessons would be the last thing on the list of ‘reasons why students fail’, if it ever makes the list.

Often, suggestions such as ‘improve your teaching method’, ‘create variety in your lessons’, and ‘you need to work harder because it is possible’ bombard teachers who fail to deliver.

But I am not saying students are wrong. NO.

These students are victims for their parents being unable to understand what ‘education and teaching’ truly means, and when these students fail way too many times to get good grades, they do what most of us do when we fail – they give up.

Under pressure from their administrators, teachers who fail to improve their students grades also give up, and do the one last thing they can do to ensure they could show the administrators that their children are ‘grade A’. They give out ‘good grades for poor results’ which is a direct effect of the administrators putting  too much emphasis that ‘results are the teachers responsibilities‘.  Aiming higher on a different crop of students is also not exactly right since a different batch of students have different levels of capabilities.

Those are ripple effects from misunderstanding what education and teaching really means, and putting too much emphasis on good grades. Sadly, most countries are doing just that.

According to Wikipedia, ‘education’ is general sense is a form of learning in which the knowledge, skills, and habits of a group of people are transferred from one generation to the next through teaching, training, or research, while ‘t0 educate’ according to Oxford means “giving intellectual, moral, and social instruction to (someone), typically at a school or university”

It does not mention anything about grades, nor results, which brings me to my main point of this long blog post.

The main reason of why an education system seem to fail despite going through numerous transformations and blueprints would start primarily in the hands of the parents. Parents exert unnecessary pressure for their children to excel with good grades and put pressure on the government to implement changes which would yield wanted results.

Along the way, a yardstick in terms of grades would be used to gauge if the changes are fruitful, but failure of their children would be blamed on the teacher and the system entirely. That said, failure is not an option, and not viewed as a learning process, but rather a sad episode which should not be part of success.

Kids reading at a bookstore without parents asking them to do so. This is the right attitude.
Kids reading at a bookstore without parents asking them to do so. This is the right attitude.

The fact however is that every success needs to begin with failure, and the faster we realize that, the better we become in creating a better education system, and the better educated our children would become.  As a matter of fact, when we look for a job, it is not the grades which are important, it is the skills.

Indeed, a grading system would still be needed to ensure we know the top crop, but  lets stop bullying the implementers for poor results of our kids, and start looking at ways to ensure that these kids do come out of the system with knowledge they can use. The final goal is important, which is to ensure these kids are able to do something worthwhile when they grow up, and are able to feed themselves.

Children should be taught that they need to work hard to acquire knowledge, and that their results are their responsibilities entirely, and not the teacher, or their parents.  Nonetheless, teachers and parents should play a huge role in motivating these students to work and learn to the best they can.

At the same time, the government should also open opportunities to those who have poor grades to pursue higher education  in technical skills to ensure no one is left out despite their abilities.

I know, what I’ve said seems a bit surreal and maybe in a tiny bit unrealistic, but it is my belief that we shouldn’t blame anyone for a child being ‘less educated’ or ‘poor’ in class.  Instead, everyone should look into motivating children to do better and learn something worthwhile. Children’s interest is important, so work on that for starters.  Nowadays, even professional gamers are paid highly, so go for it!

We should stop looking at the negative side of failure, but instead look at ways to make failures a greater path to success.

Last but not least, “Education is not about getting good grades, its about learning something“.


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