I know that I know nothing (by Anita Kwiatkowska)
Graduating from University felt awesome and life was beautiful. Full of enthusiasm and open for fresh perspectives I was ready to walk the new path as a fully qualified EFL teacher.
I had taught before graduation – most students did. I already had my favourite games and a foolproof set of grammatical exercises that would make an idiot grasp the difference between Present Simple and Present Continuous.
Needless to say I thought I knew everything a modern EFL teacher should know. To make the matter worse, my qualifications at that time were much higher than my colleagues’. And that led to pride.
Clearly I didn’t know everything but it took me a few years and a great deal of reflection to reach the conclusion that I, actually, know nothing.
All teachers are used to being the ones who know, lead and rule in the microcosm of the classroom. They are the ones who have power – to decide what subject matter will be covered during a class, to make students work, to fail or praise them. Consequently so many of us tend to forget what teaching is about. In my view – teaching is all about learning and teachers, as opposed to people of any other profession, should never ignore or diminish that fact.
As everyone, I’ve had and met a countless number of teachers. Some of them were competent and dedicated professionals, the others – quite the opposite. Looking back, the teachers I disliked most were the ones who did not want to accept or invite any changes to their lives having taught in the same school for a number of years, using the same course books and methods, demanding respect, asking no questions. From my present day perspective I feel very sad about them.
These people didn’t want to receive any further training or try out new ideas in the classroom. Frequently conceited, aloof and convinced of their superiority, they chose the comfy stabilization of a bored but settled teacher who knows it all.
And I know I don’t. Not because of my age, insufficient experience or lack of education.
No one knows everything. You can learn something from anyone being it a child, one of your students or colleagues. Personally I hold people who admit their lack of knowledge in great esteem as becoming conscious of the fact made me gain respect for myself.
Note: This article by Anita Kwiatkowska originally appeared as a guest post on Teaching Village, and is licensed under a Creative Commons, Attribution-Non Commercial, No Derivatives 3.0 License. If you wish to share it you must re-publish it “as is”, and retain any credits, acknowledgements, and hyperlinks within it.