The Pareto Principle

The student teacher relationship is a very delicate one. It has to be handled with extreme care from both sides if a healthy relationship is to be developed and maintained. Education is a shared commitment between dedicated teachers and motivated students, both with high expectations. Students and teachers are participants of this education system where each one gives and receives knowledge from the other. If any of the participants is not doing what he is expected to, the relationship is affected adversely.

Teachers often face crisis situations in the classroom, even though at times the teacher may not interpret a particular episode as a crisis (for instance a student putting his head on the desk). Further, teachers often view a crisis as something negative or bad. In reality, a crisis or a conflict gives students and teachers a unique opportunity - the chance to break out of their habitual personality patterns that block the flow of caring, compassion, and love. A crisis or a conflict is an opportunity to grow in new directions and, thus, to connect more deeply with ourselves and with life itself.

We as a section faced a similar crisis when a significant number of students did not turn up for the morning class on 30th August. Their absence was surprising because we could not attribute it to any particular cause as is otherwise plausible (like a quiz in another subject, a heavy assignment, a football match). As such, not having any inkling to the possibility of this coincidental absence of such a large number, we were unable to prevent it. Unfortunately, this was not the first time this had happened and to any second party understandably seemed an obvious affront to the effort put in by them and the motivation levels on their part. The causes for a drop in motivation levels or a lack of attendance, are usually not in the class, the subject or the teaching itself, but are borrowed from a deeper-rooted culture that is ingrained into all its members.

Motivation of students is particularly important for a healthy relationship between the students and teacher. Individual ambition is undoubtedly a strong motive in student effort, but there is such a thing among students everywhere as group ambition, whether one may call it class spirit, esprit de corps, good fellowship, or mutual goodwill. Motivation of students has to be both individual and collective in any education system. Individual motivation has more to do with the efforts that a student puts in himself, but collective motivation acts as an interface between the teacher and student. If the collective motivation is affected, the interface between the teachers and students is affected and in the teacher’s eyes overshadows the individual effort of the students.

Aristotle had rightly said “The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet”. But the important question here is “What is quality education?” A quality education is a custom design that addresses the unique abilities of each student and has a positive emotional experience. Custom education evaluates natural talent and how the student learns. This is why home-schooled students statistically out-perform classroom students. Parents learn quickly what works and does not work, then focus on what works. With this method, students develop a love to learn and learning becomes a lifelong process. Education’s goal should be to develop a love to learn that stays with students throughout a lifetime and not limited to the formative years alone.

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