As the title would have it, I would like to show how the limit of my knowledge might be an example of how other hagwon owners experience the same limit to their knowledge. Someone sent me an very interesting e-mail (Alex! “Korean hagwon owners often have no knowledge of education, little knowledge of English, and little knowledge of how to run a business”) that invoked this sense of Ignorance, and I asked myself the question: “What is the value of all these extra curricular programs and does it show on their performance?”
The honest answer is “I haven’t the foggiest.” All these disciplines, all these extra teacher training stuff, what does it amount to? I hired people from various backgrounds, with various experience levels and I can come only to one conclusion. It doesn’t matter. I wish I could say that a specific background would make for a better teacher, but it doesn’t. To use a metaphor, higher education is like building a house, if you build it on sand, the quality of the house doesn’t matter. The best teachers were those with the simplest background and a great attitude and personality.
My first problem is that the whole education Industry is based on opinion. Every time I read a paper on education, it always lacks a certain credibility; a foundation based on facts, on measurable observations. I really think educators should not become (be considered as) researchers. It is my impression that most schools who train teachers base their training on their own point of view, rather than the science behind teaching/learning. I have read papers written by people who shouldn’t have graduated high school imho. It was so badly written, I couldn’t read more than a page. I am not referring to his writing style, but to the approach to education as a science.
Again, please take into account the title of this post, I am speaking out of my own ignorance. Take into account that if someone like me feels/thinks about this topic in such a way, how can we build any type of credibility into the whole DELTA, CELTA, TESOL, and others just like that. Alex said the following: “Another thing I noticed while conducting teacher training and class observations: there are a heck of a lot of ESL diplomas out there, and many are not worth the paper they’re printed on.” If this is true, how can an ignoramus like myself distinguish between what is good and what is not, and properly value it ….
A lot of people like to put the blame on wongjangnims, and even spout the idea that people who have no idea on “what” education is, shouldn’t even begin with starting a school. This is simply an expression of either pure jealousy or stupidity. Tell that to the people who started a whole new branch of technology. There are plenty examples of people stepping into an Industry they don’t understand, and still making an impact on society. What is lacking in the education Industry is CLARITY. This industry makes money out of obfuscation, fear, disappointments, insecurity, etc …. Which is exactly the opposite of what it should do.
Another issue is the EGO of the teacher. The biggest problems I have encountered are often grounded in the teacher thinking it is all about him. If anything at all, a teacher is the one who should have no EGO at all, it is all about the student. My best teachers were those who knew they didn’t know it all, and knew what was important in the classroom; not the teacher, not the materials, but the relationship between the student and the teacher. Those extra diploma’s only tend to inflate their EGO, their perception of self-worth and their sense of entitlement. It is difficult to make people (who believe they know it all) adjust to the situation, I know, since I’m as stubborn as a bull myself.
Therefore, what I am looking for is not people’s educational background. I will simply perform a personality test through scenario’s to gauge their real aptitudes to survival in the classroom and attitudes towards people. I also will put zero value on extra diploma’s, and purely base reward on effectiveness in and outside of the classroom.
Care to disagree?