Teacher’s experiment unknowingly reveals flaws in the system

How do you solve the problem of an uncooperative secondary school class that hates itself? You know, that group of students who choose to argue over perceived differences and fight over minor disputes.

A teacher, Matthew Zachary Liu, decided to try out something on his Secondary 1 Normal Academic class.

He got the animosity-filled teenagers to like one another, and unwittingly encapsulated the limitations of our much-heralded education system.

Here’s what he did:

Students closed their eyes, as teacher rattled off various traits students could identify with.

Favourite YouTuber, most hated subject, favourite dish — fairly mundane stuff that basically everybody had an answer to.

Students who agreed with a statement would stand up and look around them; the big reveal would show the secret similarities classmates had.

For a while, it worked. An originally unruly class was now distracted by the little things each had in common.

Then things kicked up a notch.

“How many of you feel useless or have ever been told you’re worthless?”

The entire class stood up.

And with that, teacher became student, as Matthew delved into deeper topics, learning about his students, their backgrounds, and the circumstances that made them who they are.

With the reveal of each story, the class bonded and felt for one another.

We’re working our teachers too much

At the end of the session, the whole class — teacher included — learnt about themselves and one another. Lessons that no textbook could possibly provide.

There’s the real problem.

We’ve managed to burden our teachers with CCAs, KPIs, and a plethora of other acronyms that mean absolutely nothing, other than to distract our wisdom-givers. We run our teachers to the bone, reminding them of expectations while restricting them with regulations, red tape, and limited resources.

A society that values efficiency and productivity also inadvertently disregards human connection. Unfortunately, schools are being run like corporations, and when faced with such pressure, teachers hardly have enough time to be those model educators we see in every MOE advertisements ever.

The real lesson here

The whole point of this article isn’t to just tell you about this great teacher who conducted an unsanctioned experiment in class that students loved.

The real lesson here is that caring teachers who genuinely care and want to inspire their kids are unable to do so — because the expectations of results-oriented teaching inevitably get in the way.

That’s where our education system has failed us.

Read Matthew’s anecdote in full here:

Featured image via Matthew Zachary Liu
With reference from Matthew Zachary Liu