Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Who is a qualified teacher, and who is a legitimate teacher?

This may appear to be somewhat of a redundant question that takes up again the issue of qualifications. What I am thinking is that a qualified teacher is not necessarily the same as a legitimate teacher. Let’s look at qualifications first. Saying that someone is qualified is saying the following: (i) they have graduated with a degree in their field of specialization from an accredited institution and a certified program; (ii) they will have taken some kind of pre-service training or in-service training that is not bogus, and (iii) they will have received certification following a probation period of however many months or years from credentialed supervisors. Fair enough. This person, as evidenced by their academic, professional, and training records, can be said to be qualified.
What do I mean by ‘legitimate’? Legitimacy can also be translated into records, but it is more of a moral, abstract, and spiritual quality. Legitimacy means your students recognize you as a teacher, as an educator, as a coach, as a friend, as a supporter, as a prop, as a model, etc. The way you behave while teaching sends a crystal-clear signal that you are there to push them beyond their current boundaries of knowledge, that you recognize and capitalize on their knowledge, and that you are seen to respect and appreciate that knowledge as unique, rich and very much worthy of representation.
A legitimate teacher in this sense is someone who is not in the business of flexing their muscle, silencing their students and telling them that his/her authority is supreme and that if they want the truth, they must use him/her as first and last reference. Eventually, a legitimate teacher is someone who, on top of delivering their lessons, knows how to listen, appreciates what they hear, builds upon it, and definitely creates a sense of self-worth among learners. A few years ago, I saw a poster on the wall of a colleague’s office where a boss was seated on his chair with his feet on the table. Behind him was a banner written in bold characters; “When I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you’.
For me as a teacher, the politics of neutralizing, minimizing, marginalizing or down-talking to students will not lead to forming persons who will be capable of behaving as a constructive, balanced, and forward-looking individuals, whatever they may be: employee, employer, parent, compatriot or world citizen. My goal as an educator is to form students who, before and after they graduate, will carry with them values of respect for the people they serve or are served by in any capacity.


khatooma said...

ok I got it. I meant to ask... that u have stated the qualities of the qualified teacher and the behaviour of the legitimate teacher, but u did not tell us about the qualities of the legitimate teacher are they the same as the qualifies one so how would be the behaviour of the qualified teacher???

Ali H. Raddaoui said...

Hello Khtatooma,
Thank you for your comment. Let me attempt a brief answer: a qualified teacher is someone who has been certified, meaning that they have a teaching degree, from an accredited university, and a certified program. In addition, this teacher will have received in or pre-service training. These are qualifications, and they appear in the form of degrees or attendance certificates. Being a legitimate teacher is more of a feeling, something that the teacher and the students feel themselves. The message sent by a legitimate teacher is one which tells students that my job is really to help you learn new things, learn how learn, and contribute your own knowledge. This is therefore to be seen in terms of a feeling of respect for the knowledge the student carries, and an attempt at fostering pride in the student that their contribution is respected, valued, and sincerely encouraged.
Thanks again.
Ali H. Raddaoui