Teaching Realities, a Study of English Education in Perú

Over the past fifty years of teaching I have had entire classes (at all levels) of students hate me because I would not be their friend, because I would not give them the grades they demanded.  I insisted that they earn the grades by hard work, by rational understanding, legitimate interpretation of the material, and correct translations based on the original meaning and not a current definition. I was hated because I would count down for poorly written papers sloppily organized encrusted with the barnacles of wretched word choice and layered with prostituted prose.  It has never matter to me to fail the student who would parsimoniously plagiarize publicly, haplessly and carelessly, because I have required academic excellence from all students from my days of teaching at Estherville Junior College and Mauna Olu College of Maui to University of San Diego and Eastfield College to the present day where I have that rare good fortune to be allowed to share my knowledge with the students enrolled at Universidad César Vallejo (UCV).  The words of thwarted malcontents were filled with mendaciously and chimerical audacious anger, but I understood them–not for the vicious, vulnerable words themselves, but what the words were telling me: of the pseudo-academics anger towards themselves, their lethargy in learning, their personal vacuous vanity in expecting an envisaged course with few rigorous requirements.  When it came to taking examinations, cheating was common and not even lightly disguised with students texting one another using their cellular telephones.

Not content with their pontification of perfidious anhedoniac unhappiness that they had been assigned to a professor who required them to learn more than what one book reported they plotted a malevolent aeternum servans sub pectore vulnus as a subconscious revenge against themselves. As I had in the previous, I stated that I would always forgive errors in judgment and composition and even overlook rank plagiarism when the offending would-be savant admitted the error, and after such a confession allow the student(s) to write a new essay in lieu of the plagiarized paper. I reminded each student by a confidential e-mail that each alumnus, one at a time individually, that if we do not learn from our mistakes we all are doomed to repeat them, as did governments, theologies, and businesses.  These words were not new to me, nor did I craft them, for they are attributed to George Santayana (16 December 1863 in Madrid, Spain – 26 September 1952 in Rome, Italy). 

Santayana was a philosopher, essayist poet and novelist, and a teacher who demanded attention to the philosophies as well as the methodologies that shaped the present word far into the past; to recall the contributions and learning strategies of Socrates, Spinoza, Bacon and other thinkers, noting in my own orations that if anyone was to learn and be able to apply true learning strategies to advance knowledge. Unfortunately, Santayana was rebuffed as were all others who sought truth and rejected the concept that education was of a narrow focus, for as testified by my student’s sine-serendipitous rejection of redoing any paper and continued notating only contemporary thinkers in determining didactics leading to methodologies, pedagogies, and strategies.

When I did not follow the modern credo of “me first” and “me, mine, myself” and the preemptive absurd arrogations, but returned to the foundations of learning strategies to fully explore the evolution of learning, I have been regularly vilified by entire classes—not by just one student, nor even by several who overpowered the objections of the others in the modern parody of “peer pressure”—but by an ubiquitous, united force determined to secure fraudulently the highest grade possible (in Perú a score of 20, in the USA a grade of A, and so forth) and obtain an insipidly fatuous and meretricious degree with the least thinking required.  

Nothing that I had ever experienced exceeded the bile that was heaped upon me from several of the students enrolled in that university in Lambayeque Province in Perú that I had brooked before in any other university anywhere in this world weary of wars and the denudement of its natural resources and pollution of its waters, streams, and air before the early months of 2011 in Perú. But this outrage against the justice of education is now everywhere: from Florida to Perú, Stockholm to Milan, and Beijing to Borneo.

One of the e-mails I received that was sent by a young man who turned in but a solitary and single essay, extraordinarily short and abbreviated as to content, being less than two hundred words (a composition that would not have received a passing grade in a sixth grade class in any reputable school in the First World of nations), said that regardless of what I thought was necessary to know in order to gain student interest and awareness, he preferred to be a “loved” teacher (implying that education was secondary). He noted that his goal was not disseminate education but to have the students hold him dear as a friend and companion. I did respond to his letter, noting that I  do not want to be loved as a teacher, but to be respected as some a trained professional teacher and scholar who reads, writes, thinks, and converses with others in the mutual sharing of information, ideas, programs and knowledge.  Furthermore, as I detailed in my responding e-mail, I have always resented those teachers who want to be loved by their students and will give up all principles of scholarship, accuracy in assessment of student abilities, and working towards learning that which had been closeted from the student by church or state or peers; I summarized this litany by praying for his understanding that for most of the students whom I have known and the students my colleagues have attempted to teach, have told me and my fellow-teachers about demanding the top grade without working for it. As happened recently at Central Florida University when wide-spread cheating occurred, one student in the class where 200 were warned of expulsion for having photocopied the answers to a major test, commented drily, “What’s the big deal? We all do it. It is not the degree that counts, but the job it brings and the dollars we earn.” (cf. http://abcnews.go.com/Business/widespread-cheating-scandal-prompts-florida-professor-issues-ultimatum/story?id=11737137; http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/cheating-on-u-of-central-florida-test-was-aided-by-use-of-textbook-questions/28335; and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/09/cheating-scandal-rocks-un_n_781048.html)

In time those same students will forget how they obtained that top grade and lose the memory of what transpired in the classroom. I have seen and heard that excuse so many times that I can repeat it in my sleep, but for me the blackest moment in my move to Lambayeque Province was listening to the wife of a friend who bragged how she had obtained a degree in the English language at a university in Trujillo, and then boasted that she had forgotten “all of it: every word, every rule, everything” as if it was a badge of honor to have wasted four years of studying the English language in her colegio and four years at the same university.

Reflecting sorrowfully on my own past where I had the opportunity to obtain the best grade by merely fatuously fawning around the teacher—a trait in Spanish known as adulador.—as my peers did fifty years ago, I could not do the same. Today many claim that fifty years ago I was a student prodigy who had teachers who admired my intelligence and unending search for knowledge, and secretly resented me for finding books, articles, and other forms of recorded information that they had not searched for nor obviously read, and denounced me for having had the audacity to question their pontifications by citing original source material that contradicted their claims and entonements to their embarrassment. I have never respected those who deliberately falsify knowledge and reality, and because of this I have made many enemies throughout my lifetime and within my careers: from the days I studied for the doctorate at the University of Cincinnati where I found the medievalist’s source book printed by Oxford University Press as one of its tomes in a multivolume work on the History of England and exposed the professor’s plagiarisms in papers and oral presentations, to my unfortunate and typically short career as Senior Technical Writer at Sauer-Danfoss (USA; a Danish engineering firm) where I countered the extraordinary arrogance of an engineer who wanted to reverse the entire hydraulic process that would have rendered the motor on a John Deere tractor useless and who was supported by the Team Leader of the “Writing Group” who was seldom at work, frequently running personal errands, and never read a single book I wrote in three years (although he did send one to the Czech Republic for their review–it came back without a change)—for which I received not only a reprimand but an offer of a “buy out” of three months wages if I agreed never to step foot in the Ames, Iowa facility.  But before I left he had me order twelve copies of several books I had written (including Writing Plain English and Punctuation Handbook) to send to Demark and other Sauer-Danfoss international centers. Of course Sauer-Danfoss never paid me for the books, but then I was reminded that the company was paying me for the three months that I would not work on location in Ames. I agreed to this humiliation as I needed the money to make house payments, and new I could spend more time in my own businesses I ran out of a small building I purchased on Isabella Street in Radcliffe. 

Dr. John L. Eiklor (Iowa)

It has not always been the case, for there were a few more gentler moments, as when I was a student at State College Iowa.  There I had a few truly exceptional teachers: Donald Howard, head of the History Department, John L. Eiklor who would fit into any program, and Harold Bernhard head of the Department of Religion (who oversaw my first MA thesis).  Professor Eiklor was an extraordinary teacher with a wide range of knowledge, and the professor for a class on the Renaissance and Reformation.  In this class, Dr. Eikor asked each student to write a paper on a special, self-chosen topic on the Renaissance or the Reformation (Northern or Italian) and after it was finished at the end of the semester tell him what grade each student believed that he or she deserved and justify the grade to obtain it.  

My undergraduate term paper for a class on the Renaissance and Reformation.

I wrote my paper (over 600 pages) on the influence of the secularization of the arts tinged with tautological truncations and tepid theology that were fluid from 1500 to 1585, and covered the subject matter I presented with copious documentation and examples not only in words but in pictures, diagrams and drawings and even some verses that I composed in the style of the period I was reviewing.

After my peers passed papers of five to ten pages and demanded the superior grade, the good professor pointed passionately at me and demanded to know where my paper was and what grade I believed it merited. Realizing it was my turn to tread tenderly (as if summoned by a god sitting enthrone on Mount Olympus) toward the towering figure of academic authority, I placed my buckram-bound tome on the don’s desk and asked Dr. John L. Eiklor (M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Northwestern University, in 1953 and 1963, respectively.  He was loved for his teaching ability, knowledge of subject matter and because he refused to be a friend with any student but saw all as having an equal opportunity to achieve.  Dr. Eiklor was a strict and stern teacher, but given to an occasional joke, but not once did he misuse a word, incorrectly write a sentence, or discount the importance of reading, writing, and discussing all things with everyone; he truly was l’uomo universale and had unlimited zeal and determination to build scholars: http://www.library.uni.edu/collections/special-collections/biographical-sketches/john-l-eiklor) to judge the quality of the work, not its quantity. I openly reasoned out-loud that he would be a better determiner of its merits than I, since I was too close to its recent authorship (I still possess that tomes in my own library with Dr. Eiklor’s annotations and marginalia around the world and ultimately to Perú, the gold stamping of the letters beginning to chip and fade, the binding tired and the pages weathered like an old oak barn braced badly for frigid temperatures and howling winds and have placed it in this blog for reference and reflection). 

Walking away from the podium where the weary professor rested his elbows (he would later die from heart bypass surgery complications), I felt every eye upon me, and I sensed so much hatred that I wanted to sink through the floor. I had become accustomed to it, for Dr. Eiklor and Dr. Donald F. Howard (http://www.library.uni.edu/collections/special-collections/biographical-sketches/donald-f-howard) were the only ones on the campus who would even acknowledge my existence by fraternally addressing me as “Brother Ide.” That day of being thoroughly despised at State College of Iowa in Cedar Falls was nothing like the dark day in Lambayeque Province at the university where I attempted to teach Learning Strategies to students who would not read the week’s assignment nor turn in the paper required by the syllabus, but instead sat in huddles for quick chats and smirks smacking of distain of the subject matter and flagrant and open derision of my person that was now ripe with age and too much food. The students at the national university in Lambayeque had computers and access to the worldwide web from which they copied liberally, they were not burdened like I was with having to read real books, to translate from the Latin (we studied Latin in primary school), Greek, German, French, and a myriad of medieval languages not yet modernized, nor did any of these would-be future teachers have to sit in a cubicle to poured their heart and empty their mind onto clean white paper with words filtered grammatically from mind to my fingers that flew across a old SCM Typewriter, pounding on the keys to form words (and if a mistake occurred to start with a fresh sheet as erasures were never permitted).

The lust for an unearned grade and to receive an unmerited diploma has haunted civilization from the beginning of education in time and it is not just in backward Third World nations like Perú (where I have the opportunity to teach at a truly fine university in Chiclayo: Universidad César Vallejo, where the Academic Dean Luis Amado Berrera Arrésteguí actually supports the faculty but comes down firmly against any plagiarism, and requires workshops where teachers participate as equals), but also in First World nations where I studied in the USA, UK, and elsewhere. One thing that education still requires is papers, but the papers that I received were marginal at best for that Master degree in English teaching as the average paper was only 200 words and without any significant merit, offering no new ideas or hypothecate postulations or predictions as most words were cut-and-pasted onto paper if the composition itself was not directly lifted from the internet—that being one of the primary reasons I strongly object to the internet as a tool in a university for it encourages students to cheat by making copying even easier).

The papers that were not plagiarized (usually from Wikipedia) were consistently vague, inarticulate, and filled with grammatical and spelling errors and barely merited a minor grade barely at the passing level (being an eleven on a twenty point scale).  Those plagiarized treatises, deceptively counterfeited so obviously that it took little time to research and point out where the theft was from by those who would be role models for Perú’s next generation, I failed.  Once the paper was denied any grade, and the student’s rank imitation of an original thought duly noted in my record book, the plagiarism was returned to the student with a note that the plagiarism would be forgotten and forgiven if the student wrote an original composition that had value and made a contribution to the subject matter discussed. 

As the frequency of plagiarism grew in my class, I read the laws against plagiarism as defined not only in the USA and Europe, but specifically read the laws against plagiarism in Perú. Doing this was a futile exercise, as the professor at Central Florida University discovered, as after my presentation and request for transparency in the classroom and original writing by the students seeking the Master degree, the result was always the same—“So what?” “Everyone copies!” and “other teachers do not object, they just give us good grades and we love them.”

Because I have always objected to plagiarism (and continue to do so) and cite all national and international laws against plagiarism I am considered a detriment to obtaining the worthless degree that shows only how to cheat and lie but not to know; for this reason I rejected the argument that the terrible transgression of plagiarism is universal among all students (as nothing is universal any more than any idea or subject or entity is universal—it is the same fallacy as claiming that there is but one god for all people: a grand hypocrisy and idiocy which glorifies one idea, one people, one theology at the expense of the plethora of reality) with even a “friend” in Sweden writing me that for me to write a book on English grammar is a waste of time since anyone can download numerous books on English grammar from the internet–complete with mistakes as found in the IB Programme website where it is permissible to begin a sentence with a conjunction even though the rule is that conjunctions hold together clauses.  The students who were graduate candidates and many who were already teachers in colegios (although some quite affected schools who have little knowledge of their own Spanish language have painted out the word and wrongly substituted “College” that  no reputable Spanish dictionary agrees to theword useage; cf. SM Diccionarios avanzado: English-Spanish Español-Inglés. Madrid [204], p. 816) demanded my dismissal and followed the letter of Perú law that they had someone research, by having to register three complaints and all students had to sign the document.  I had no problem leaving, as I knew that the cause was lost to teach this congregation of students learning strategies that they assumed was a form of methodology.

Licensed by the States of Iowa, California, and others, I am a professional educator who has been examined and judged qualified to be a teacher throughout the USA but also with the reputation of an abecedary and pedagogue who is unsatisfied with mediocrity, carelessness, and baseness in scope and content of students who will not read, will not write satisfactorily, will not participate in group discussions or offer personal observations, opinions, and monologues.  

When I published my blog on my excruciating experience at UNPRG (http://arthuride.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/universidad-nacional-pedro-ruiz-gallo-peru/), I received an avalanche of hate mail from my students and their friends.  This was not unexpected as it has become a part of teaching everywhere, and a good teacher understands that it is a way for students to release their frustrations, so I accepted the bile bitterly belched on me through the internet and in person and continued my research confident in my abilities, as the adept advocate of learning must go on with his or her life and his or her vocation and love of learning and teaching.

Dr. Arthur Ide

I am old, I am told repeatedly, and should retire for younger teachers to enter the classroom who will award grades based not on quality of work but on attendance and rote mastery of single-text book readings. It is true that I am over sixty-five years of age, and I have lived a long, boring to most people, and an unloved life by the definition of some do since I never had a family of my own, nor ever wanted children or retainers groveling before me.  Physical death holds neither threat nor fear for me any more than the hate mail I receive for I have found sanctuary in wisdom and the respect and support of and within my university that is also in Lambayeque Province. While I have no family of my own, no relatives nor other members of an extended family, I do have a small coterie of friends and my eight dogs, but most of all this has made me realize what a good teacher and an outstanding educator must be, and to that end I detail the qualifications of the professional practioneer of pedagogy and academic learning.

What is a good teacher?  In every survey ever taken that I have ever read, in every language that I read and engage in debate with members of that linguistic group, students rank the number one quality of a good teacher is a professional who is knowledgeable  of the subject.  First and foremost the teacher must be a subject matter expert—not a facilitator. If the teacher does not know the subject that he or she is teaching, then he or she should not be teaching. Even the neophytes and novices need to know more than how to read a PowerPoint presentation to a class (yet in most schools and universities this is the rule (cp. Rachel, Samuel (1493). De jure naturae et gentium dissertationes; e.g. État de la journée: réglementation), or refer to note cards, stumbling aimlessly trying to get students to fill in information the teacher is uncertain, incapable, or unqualified of knowing.

Once the teacher knows the subject thoroughly (i.e.  รู้เรื่องอย่างละเอียด or знаејќи предмет темелно) he or she can facilitate or assist the student to find or ferret out information and not blunder or flouder without the lighted lamp of education fully burning to show the way beyond the shadows on the wall of today’s educational cave (Σωκράτης σπηλιά, Plato, Republic, Book X). 

Good teachers are not only facilitators. The lead in the journey, as facilitation (from the Latin facilis which is the third declension for “easy” and comes from facio) means to “make things easier”—not to give out information but help direct the individual’s conduct of inquiry. No teacher can make things easy for any alumnus if the educator does not know the subject matter as well as the steps towards understanding it.

A good teacher is cognizant of the subject matter and positively preachificates that all areas of learning feed into one another.  The good teacher apperceives that no subject is an orphan nor is it unique. For example, in teaching astronomy a good teacher will employ art to enliven and expand the subject by showing how the earth and the sky and the stars were pictured in each epoch, and possibly, as I wrote in my blog on Fig Leaves (http://arthuride.wordpress.com/2010/11/30/fig-leaves-popes-and-genitalia/), that even Michelangelo in his massive painting on the wall behind the altar of the Sistine Chapel painted the planets going around the sun as if he was taking liberties with the thesis of Copernicus—long before Galileo Galilee.  The same is true in teaching of mathematics for a good teacher will call upon the philosophers such as Pythagoras who gave us a significant understanding with a simple equation gained from determining the dimensions of a triangle (Sally, Judith D., Sally, Paul (2007). “Chapter 3: Pythagorean triples”. Roots to research: a vertical development of mathematical problems. American Mathematical Society Bookstore. p. 63; whether or not Pythagoras was the original thinker on this mathematical formula is discussed in Allman, George Johnston (1889). Greek Geometry from Thales to Euclid (Reprinted by Kessinger Publishing LLC 2005 ed.). Hodges, Figgis, & Co. p. 26.). In agricultural sciences good teachers can turn to Archimedes and his famous screw that still brings water to Egyptian fields and is used elsewhere in various capacities as it is the knowledge of integral calculus. In the physical sciences, Archimedes is responsible for mechanics and mechanical engineering (see: Ide, Arthur Frederick (2002). Hydraulics and Hydrostatics: Pumps and Motors (Dallas, Monument) and it calls for a ponderous discussion on the need for a greater understanding of the critical shortage of water, of water pollution and efforts and water purification with a comprehension of the past to plan for the present and prepare for the future when clear and fresh water actually in short time will become scarce.  Aristotle was among the first western philosophers to discuss in his book Meteorology (Latin: Meteorologica or Meteora) his theories about earth sciences that  includes early accounts of water (Metaph. 983 b21-22) and water evaporation (Thales recognized evaporation, and was familiar with traditional views, such as the nutritive capacity of mist and ancient theories about spontaneous generation, phenomena which he may have ‘observed’, just as Aristotle believed he, himself had (Hist. An. 569 b1; Gen. An. 762 a9-763 a34), and about which Diodorus Siculus (I.7.3-5; 1.10.6), Epicurus (ap. Censorinus, D.N. IV.9), Lucretius (De Rerum Natura , V.783-808) and Ovid (Met. I.416-437) wrote), weather phenomena, and earthquakes that could lead to massive damage and loss of life: “So the whirlwind originates in the failure of an incipient hurricane to escape from its cloud: it is due to the resistance which generates the eddy, and it consists in the spiral which descends to the earth and drags with it the cloud which it cannot shake off. It moves things by its wind in the direction in which it is blowing in a straight line, and whirls round by its circular motion and forcibly snatches up whatever it meets.” (371a9-15). In the area of hydrology, Aristotle wrote: “The whole of the Mediterranean does actually flow. The direction of this flow is determined by the depth of the basins and by the number of rivers. Maeotis flows into Pontus and Pontus into the Aegean. After that the flow of the remaining seas is not so easy to observe.” (354a11-14). Contrary to Ptolemy and what would become Hebrew and Christian canon that the earth was the center of the universe and flat, Aristotle wrote “The earth is surrounded by water, just as that is by the sphere of air, and that again by the sphere called that of fire.” (354b23-25)

It was Thales, the student of Aristotle, who first wrote and taught at length that the earth (the land) was not a continuous body going from one side of the planet to the other, nor referencing Aristotle “flat” (Aristotle, Cael. 297 b25-298 a8), but that the earth was a “floating vessel” (in many ancient languages it was called an “ark”) that moved on top of the waters (oceans); see: Aëtius (Aët. III. 9-10; Aëtius recorded the different opinions of the shape of the earth that were held by Thales, Anaximander and Anaximenes (III.9-10; III.10; and III.10). Cicero attributed to Thales the earliest construction of a solid celestial globe (Rep. I.XIII.22.) and Plutarch (Epit. III.10).  This “floating vessel” (or ark) could distress the planet and create earthquakes that could eventually spell the doom of all mortals if mortals do not take care of Mother Gaia (the planet Earth), and the planet itself would collapse under the weight of its own denudement.  Aëtius recorded that Thales and Democritus found in water the cause of earthquakes (Aët. III.15), and Seneca attributed to Thales a theory that on the occasions when the earth is said to quake it is fluctuating because of the roughness of oceans (QNat. III.14; 6.6).

But these were just a beginning of what would become his defense of learning strategies that required an appreciation of the past and a knowledge of grammar at all levels (see Aristotle, Περὶ Ἑρμηνείας or Peri Hermeneias which in Latin is de Interpretatione. He is the father of the quantification theory and modalities. Chapter 2 defines a noun and signifies the subject by convention without reference to time; Chapter 3 details how a verb carries with it the notion of time; Chapter 4 defines a sentence as an expression whose parts have meaning; Chapter 5 details how every simple preposition contains a verb; and so forth—arguments I used in my Learning Statistics class at UNPRG and was blasted for it as being irrelevant by “teachers” who could not put together a coherent sentence in English when I argued that they would lack understanding if they did not learn the full corpus of the subject—or become subject matter experts [e.g. τὰ μετὰ τὰ φυσικά]. Cp. πάντες ἄνθρωποι τοῦ εἰδέναι ὀρέγονται φύσει. σημεῖον δ᾽ ἡ τῶν αἰσθήσεων ἀγάπησις: καὶ γὰρ χωρὶς τῆς χρείας ἀγαπῶνται δι᾽ αὑτάς, καὶ μάλιστα τῶν ἄλλων ἡ διὰ τῶν ὀμμάτων. οὐ γὰρ μόνον ἵνα πράττωμεν ἀλλὰ καὶ μηθὲν [25] μέλλοντες πράττειν τὸ ὁρᾶν αἱρούμεθα ἀντὶ πάντων ὡς εἰπεῖν τῶν ἄλλων. αἴτιον δ᾽ ὅτι μάλιστα ποιεῖ γνωρίζειν ἡμᾶς αὕτη τῶν αἰσθήσεων καὶ πολλὰς δηλοῖ διαφοράς. φύσει μὲν οὖν αἴσθησιν ἔχοντα γίγνεται τὰ ζῷα, ἐκ δὲ ταύτης τοῖς μὲν αὐτῶν οὐκ ἐγγίγνεται μνήμη, τοῖς δ᾽ ἐγγίγνεται.)  What startled me at the university in Lambayeque Province where I was teaching Learning Strategies, not a single student knew of this important work, none had read it, and all but one student found it a waste of time–yet it is this work that gives today’s grammarians substance and strength of argument, for it is on these principles that all languages in the modern world exist.  I have found that only the good and intelligent academic dean at my university (UCV) has an appreciation of this critical work (alas! I have it only in the original Greek, which few Peruvians are able to read).

The good teacher must be an expert in the teacher’s specialized field of expertise: if the teacher is professing knowledge of the English language, that teacher must be an expert in grammar, spelling, vocabulary and all subfields. At the same time that teacher must be comfortably familiar with and introduce literature, music and the arts in all of their varied and wonderful formats to assist the student who is attempting to learn English to see that English as a language is neither staid nor ossified, nor something that is for rote memorization.  This has been my Te Deum and my Geist der Zeit (which has nothing to do with a joie de vivre) but it is difficult to use in Perú except in that rare and extraordinary center of learning, the new Athens, that spreads out on the Caratera de Pimentel behind it white and blue bricks and facings over which is emblazoned the acronym UCV, as while I have taught in Perú since 2005, I have lamentably found teachers of English more interested in a paycheck than in seeing a student recome enriched with real knowledge and grow intellectually as well as academically (I suppose it is for that reason I am called on by senior personnel at Banco del Credito de Peru (BCP) in Lima, and various mining and law firms to help them improve their English and rewrite/edit their letters of application to enter serious senior universities in the USA, UK and Europe as I have taught at CALSA, TDM, Oracle, Backus, Sika, Merck, and numerous other major foreign companies both in Perú and other nations). This is even true of many “teachers” from the USA, UK, Canada and Europe who are on “holiday” in Perú and seek to earn a few Soles without any true expertise in the English language, as most come from backgrounds in biology, agriculture, military, and homemaking.  It is because of their birth status–their citizenship–in English speaking nations that satisfies the gnawing need of administrators to find “native speakers” to put into classrooms, to the disservice of the students. The majority of these “native speakers” teach street English.  They use such non-words as “wanna”, “gonna”, “gotcha”, “iza” and so forth.  One institute in Chiclayo (ICPNA) actually paid for an American to fly to the institute and teach slang, such as: “I’m pooped”, even though all dictionaries define “poop” as the excrement from a dog. 

While I was teaching at a language institute in central Chiclayo (SENATI), the coordinator brought to my aula (classroom) a young Peruvian navy SEAL who wanted to pass the FCE (First Certificate in English).  I explained to the young man that the FCE was a certificate.  He insisted that it was an advanced degree.  Many use these IB Programme tests as degrees–to earn more money and get allegedly better teaching positions, yet teach more poorly than even I could imagine.  He young man persisted, demanding that I help him to pass the FCE, while refusing to take the course–a course that only I was teaching.  When I asked why he would not study, he told me that I was too old to be interesting, and too fat to be worth watching–and he hated to read. 

I asked him why he wanted the FCE, after suggesting he learn basic English grammar first.  He responded that by having the FCE he would be paid more money and he liked drinking beer at the local discotheque. I suggested that he needed first and foremost to have a love of teaching and that love of teaching should be his calling—not a dance tune or a pretty face. He became visually distraught and stormed off with a slurry of words defaming not only me but my background in education, swearing that teachers gave grades in Perú so they would be able to keep a teaching job (not a position or profession, just a job).  

I never saw him again.  His petulance and animosity remains clear in my mind as he continues to teach at SENATI in Chiclayo. I mourn for his students.  Each time I think about him I refine my own definition of what is a good teacher, and for that reason I wrote this essay.

The good teacher is an educated intellectual who has developed his or her particular talents, possesses passion for learning, and has superior pronunciation skills, reads omniverously, writes regularly, engages in open dialogues with others on a myriad of subjects (cp. Plato, Republic, 369a-515c), and does not prostitute himself or herself for a paycheck.  Unfortunately that form of prostitution is very common in Third World nations, and seeping into Second and First World nations as the few super rich reach out to strangle the independence of the disappearing Middle Class who has given more than its share of teachers to the world.  It is those with wealth who downplay the importance of books, of mastering languages, and of creating innovative ways of doing things, teaching about soil and water conservation, protecting the ozone and becoming caretakers of the planet and not denuding it of its forests and vegetation, or stripping it of its nonrenewable resources so that a few can live well while others suffer.  In Perú I have been told by those working at Merck, as I have been told by “graduate students” in Lambayeque Province that they both learned and teach English by using the songs by the Beatles (a rock band in the UK).  While I have never cared for the Beatles, I can see using their melodies as a learning strategy, as I explained to my one-time class in February 2011.  I responsed to the common querry as to what I thought of the Beatles, and while not offering a judgment I noted that there is nothing wrong in using the melodies of the Beatles in class as a learning strategy, but true professional educators would correct the grammar and spelling of lyrics (for example: I want to hold your hand, and not continue the slang: I wanna hol your han).

Rock-and-Roll and other contemporary musical forms of expression are current with vulgar (street) English, as is the case with movies (especially read in subtitles, such as the screen for the Bollywood film “Two Idiots” that had printed in bold letter U 2 B), and I have listened to the worse pronunciation of even simple English words from alleged professors of phonics and pronunciation.  I am appalled that this exists, continues and is never challenged, but then modern media is deteriorating rapidly as the urgency for “now” becomes almost a lethal drug. 

I am truly apprehensive about the wards of today’s teachers who are carrying on their linguistic mutilations of basic words and phrases.  The majority of the teachers I have spoken with in Perú follow the pronunciation of Spanish alphabet and language for English pronunciations; to this end the student catches the “booos” not the bus, the color yellow becomes “jello”, and so forth, even though I urge them to remember that the color is a “smiling word” and the lips must be fully parted, while the gelatine is a kissing word with the lips pursed (Ide, Arthur Frederick (2010). Improving English Speaking and Pronunciation Skills. Dallas: Monument.) 

The reason for my trepidation (its root is closest to the Hindi जल्दबाजी) is that students learn by example (repeating what they hear and watching the curvature of the mouth, the projection of the tongue, the exhalation of the air from the throat across the teeth), not by reading books without linguistic guidance or parroting parched words weaping for correct pronunciations. 

I have told phonics professors as patiently as possible, the good teacher must exude an exhilarating enthusiasm for the language and pronounce it correctly using phonics as a tool to carve carefully the tonal qualities necessary to turn plain words into symphonies–but never allow contemporary convulsions of the tongue that are fad for a moment be their slave master.  I encourage professors of phonics to pronounce each syllable of every new word that is brought to the student’s attention and knowledge with succinct satin superiority and rich resolve restoring the language to its originality, while, at the same time, being adept at handling all pedagogies and knowing the history of each word and its origin and evolution.  For example, I have noted in my conversation classes at UCV when I have taught Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol  that each word matters in this historic piece.  Ebeneezer Scrooge is visited by “merry gentlemen”, I note and ask what these men were.  The responses ranged from “happy” to “gay,” yet these visitors were not necessarily happy people (and there is no indication of their sexual preference and natural propensity) but, instead, the men were benevolent gentlemen seeking alms to help the poor: they were charity workers (this is learned from the highly likely or strongly possible root from the Old English merige meaning agreeable; there are few European correlates, with the one possible exception being the Middle Dutch mergelijc meaning “joyful”; consider Bot vchon enle we wolde were fyf, þe mo þe myryer c. 1300 CE).  From this point on, students of languages can find a new uncharted path with which to approach not only literature but languages.  This is especially true when researching and using the English idiom.  If this does not happen, the students who merely read words and not have the tools of interpretation are doomed to failure; this shipwreck of fools takes place when and  if they do not know and appreciate the history of all languages from all periods and epochs of time and in and from all places (in short, the true student of languages becomes a philologist—a title that I adopted years ago for myself), of learning language strategies, and the methodologies and pedagogies of linguistics.  Tragically, in the colegios and the universities I have visited and taught at in various locations throughout Perú, the students I who have spoken with me have declared dramatically that they are more interested in a “fast fix” allowing them to be able to recite a brief strategy than understand any reality of where the strategy started, how it developed, what keeps it valuable, and what it can do for the student of tomorrow to assist that student to be a better person, an individual who is aware of the realities of dwindling natural resources, who will argue for the basic rights both civil and human for all people, and to care about the advance of learning without worrying about the cost (Perú has finally raised its national contribution to public schools to 4% but not without a little rancor).  All they want for their students is for the students to “love” them, enjoy games and songs with them, and pass to the next cycle so that the teachers keep their jobs and get paid.

Original coverpage from Don Quixote 1605 (in my private collection)

While money is essential to sustain life and to buy good books, a serious scholar who has the honor of teaching others sees more than the paycheck as the ultimate end to the academic day. A good teacher is critical in research, writing, and oral presentation not only for his or her classroom, his or her colegio or university, but also for his or her nation and for the development of all nations so that there is a better world to leave to succeeding generations. A good teacher is not, necessarily, an outstanding teacher—which is far more necessary for the world of today and market of tomorrow. While there is a great need for outstanding, exceptional, highly skilled and educated teachers, reality notes that it is best to educate those with an interest in learning so that they can motivate others, even if the candidates for degrees do not obtain the best scores or produce the best books.  It is wrong, however, to give up the struggle to fashion outstanding scholars, but this takes time and energy for not everyone will master all languages, read daily and speak forcefully on subjects that are controversial. All teachers should be encouraged to do so, but it is not always possible to get such a fervent commitment.  It can be sought after but the quest is frequently as illusive as the enemies Don Quixote pursued with his faithful companion Sancho Panza (or Zancas) who is uneducated and unable to read (Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha [originally published in two volumes: 1605 and 1615).

An outstanding teacher knows more than just the basic material (that should never be the situation nor considered good enough especially for an elementary teacher, as all education starts at the lowest level and works its way to the top. Unless the initial grades are taught soundly, those who pass into the primary and secondary levels will struggle with advanced material especially if they have not been taught how to read insightfully as well as find pleasure and fulfillment in reading and writing).  It is critical that the outstanding teacher does not read the textbook to the students as if the students were blind or had not been trained to read. The outstanding teacher does not quote from a single textbook and/or in a show of a lack of true knowledge belittles education by pompously pronouncing patently that the textbook is infallible and never to be questioned. Instead, the outstanding teacher requires the students to read more than one book for each subject, and then that outstanding educator will teach not what is found within the pages of that book selected for the students to read, unless a passage or page is truly essential and buttressed with the skill of medieval masons fashioning the towering domes of cathedrals of learning, but instead the outstanding teacher will show the weaknesses and errors of the textbook so that the students not only approaches other books and records with a critical and discerning eye, but understands that all knowledge is can never be contained nor secreted in a single volume as if that single volume were absolutely true (a βιβλία)and written by an unseen divine hand (as was the case with al-Farabi: فقد قرأ كتاب أرسطو في هذا العلم ولم يفهم منه شيئا، وأعاد قراءته أربعين مرة حتى حفظه عن ظهر قلب دون أن يفهمه. وفي يوم من الأيام ذهب إلى السوق فعرض عليه دلال كتابا صغيرا في أغراض ما بعد الطبيعة، فرده ابن سينا ردا متبرما متحججا بأنه علم لا فائدة منه. فأخبره الدلال بأن الكتاب سعره ثلاثة دنانير فقط وصاحبه في حاجة إلى ثمنه، فاشتراه منه، فإذا هو كتاب الفارابي في أغراض ما بعد الطبيعة. فأسرع ابن سينا إلى البيت وقرأه فانفتح ما استغلق عليه في الحال لأنه كان يحفظ كتاب أرسطو speaking on Aristotle’s Metaphysics). 

The outstanding teacher not only questions the single text the students buy (publishers need to reduce their prices on books so that they are more affordable and students can keep them and refer to them the rest of their lives, but the reason most books are costly is that so few are printed that the publishers must raise the prices not only to cover labor and production costs but also to make a reasonable profit on and from their investment), but offers refutations and rejections to that text and encourages the students to seek out other errors and find out what is fact. If this was not true, we would still believe the world was flat and that the earth stood still, that the sun was orbiting (or as one eleventh century monk wrote “the sun is running around this plate of God on which we live” and another defined the sun to be in a chariot pulled by horses at the will of God, as if the chariot was the transportation of the ancient god Apollo) around the planet whose ends were drop-offs where monsters lay in waiting for ships to cruise past the point of no return.

The outstanding teacher will introduce antecedents to the material that is to be covered, to present the realities that are ignored, and to flesh out that which is marginalized in text and context. For example, to teach the history of the German Third Reich without knowing about the causes and the extent of world wide economic meltdown of the late 1920s and early 1930s, the depression of the 1930s that played bitterly for the men without jobs in Berlin and throughout the Kaiserdom, few would understand why the men who lined up for food because they had no jobs supported and voted for Adolf Hitler who promised the men that if he was elected chancellor he would remove women from the workplace (jobs were given to women who agreed to work for lower pay) and return them to the home where they would become good mothers and submissive wives as his bible told him they had to serve submissively their husbands who were lords over their hearths and hearts (this continues to be the message given out today by evangelical extremists who read the bible literally without any knowledge or training in the ancient languages that formulated and formed the bible from 300 BCE to 1525 CE). It was for this reason that the Christians of Germany flocked to his banner, and rejoiced on hearing Hitler’s September 1934 speech Kinder, Küche, Kirche (children, kitchen, church; this is actual a plagiarism by Hitler from  a speech given in December 1898 by the then New York Senator Chauncey Depew to the college women’s club in New York. “When I was in Germany a few years ago its press had just come to the knowledge of our new woman. The German Emperor took up the subject and was reported to have said that the whole duty of women could be condensed into three things — “the kitchen, the children, and the church”. Hitler gave his speech to the National Socialist Women’s Organization, arguing that for the German woman her “world is her husband, her family, her children, and her home,” Doramus, Max (1990). The Complete Hitler: A Digital Desktop Reference to His Speeches & Proclamations, 1932-1945. Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers, p. 532) while denouncing the Jews as destroying the Christian family, and ultimately leading to the surprising (for many) election of the Austrian Adolf Hitler to the office of German Chancellor in January 1933 (http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/nazis_and_the_german_economy.htm. After Hitler took office women who were out of work were no longer counted as they were expected to marry and be pregnant as often as possible so that they would merit Ehrenkreuz der deutschen Mutter; see: Angolia, John R. (1989; 2nd ed.) For Führer and Fatherland: Political & Civil Awards of the Third Reich, R. James Bender Publishing, ISBN-13: 978-0912138145, pp 67-69) and the building of concentration camps for women who continued to work (either because they were the single parent supporting their own or their extended family, or were doctors, lawyers and teachers who enjoyed their vocations and added to the luster of the German society) which was seen as degrading and tarnishing Hitler’s concept of the reality of history where women were meant to be submissive to men (all males, actually).  

Ravensbrück Death Camp run by doctors and nures to perform experiments on living women before burning them in furnaces

The first concentration camp for women workers in Nazi Germany was for over 100,000 women and they were herded like cattle and incarcerated in Ravensbrück; when the Nazis were beaten in battle in 1945, over 117,000 women workers and children were executed at Ravensbrück; see: http://www.vcn.bc.ca/outlook/library/articles/antiSemitism/p05RavensbruckWomen.htm  (Sophie Scholl, a student at the University of Munich and a member of the White Rose resistance group, was arrested and executed in February 1943 for handing out anti-Nazi leaflets. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005176). The greatest obscenity to the vilification and assassination of women came not only from Hitler and his goons, but the teacher-website for the IB Programme where the monitor of the History section told a teacher that women during the time of Hitler women were not important and not to waste time discussing the role or misuse of women when teaching the Third Reich; I recoiled at such an absurdity and wrote back a stinging rebuke and promptly from the colegio where I was teaching and enrolled at that website.  Good teachers will reject such insensitivity and male chauvinism, and I advocate that they do not associate themselves with or teach the IB Programme. Hitler’s atrocities were more than his slave labor camps, death camps, and death marches and so forth, because few teachers want to discuss eugenics and how that idea played into his ultimate work Mein Kamp (or My Struggle). Outstanding teachers will have read this book, not just reviews of it, and discuss it with their students, for students must know how far hate can spread and how a “man of faith” (as Hitler called himself; see: http://arthuride.wordpress.com/2010/05/30/was-hitler-an-atheist/) could commit such atrocities in the name of faith.

To be an outstanding university teacher, the individual must constantly study and reach higher levels of knowledge. Good teachers do not cave into threats from students, administrators, or local authorities, who fear what a qualified, credentialed and certified teacher teaches, and if charges are brought up against the teacher by students or parents and guardians, the teacher must be given time to clear his or her name and demonstrate the validity of what is being taught. Outstanding teachers neither run out of fear nor turn silent, worried about the next paycheck or offending a Dean, Director or even the President of a university.  Teaching is a lifetime occupation and vocation—it is not merely an amusement or something to fill time until a better job is offered. Socrates died for what he believed in, as did most the great teachers of this world who were persecuted and executed by church and state and by disgruntled students. Not to speak out against the intimidations and threats of students, parents, guardians, police, military or governments that wish to stop the free exchange of ideas and curtain knowledge is a grave crime against humanity, for if the teacher’s voice is silenced it is the same as when the Germans remained silent when the Nazi pogroms enveloped and evaporated entire families and villages in quest of racial purity and Hitler’s concept of defending his god and Jesus. Hundreds of thousands of Germans said and did nothing when the Nazis rounded up the Jews, Romas (gypsies), homosexuals, White Russians, and so forth—so when the Nazis finally came for them, there was no one to speak up for their rights (cf. http://www.theturning.org/folder/Nazis.html). Every student should read:

Als die Nazis die Kommunisten holten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Kommunist.

Als sie die Sozialdemokraten einsperrten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Sozialdemokrat.

Als sie die Gewerkschafter holten,
habe ich nicht protestiert;
ich war ja kein Gewerkschafter.

Als sie die Juden holten,
habe ich geschwiegen;
ich war ja kein Jude.

Als sie mich holten,
gab es keinen mehr, der protestierte.

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.

(See: http://www.history.ucsb.edu/faculty/marcuse/niem.htm) It is past time that teachers and students speak out for what each believes is right—to engage in open discussion and dialogue, and not to hide behind whispers and secret meetings as the Nazis did at the universities in Germany where the disgruntled went to Directors and Deans to denounce professors who they thought were unworthy as they were not receiving high marks or the information they believed was the only information that was right. For example: In January 1946, Niemöller spoke of meeting a German Jew who had lost everything–parents, brothers, and sisters too. ‘I could not help myself’, said Niemöller, ‘I had to tell him, “Dear brother, fellow man, Jew, before you say anything, I say to you: I acknowledge my guilt and beg you to forgive me and my people for this sin.”‘

Pastor Martin Niemöller of the Lutheran (Evangelical) Church in Nazi Germany

Pastor Martin Niemöller’s stance was heatedly and loudly unwelcomed by the 1,200 students to whom he was preaching. They shouted and jeered as he preached that Germany must accept responsibility for the five or six million murdered Jews. Students in Marburg and Göttingen similarly heckled him, even as Niemöller insisted that ‘We must openly declare that we are not innocent of the Nazi murders, of the murder of German communists, Poles, Jews, and the people in German-occupied countries.”We must openly declare that we are not innocent of the Nazi murders, of the murder of German communists, Poles, Jews, and the people in German-occupied countries. No doubt others made mistakes too, but the wave of crime started here and here it reached its highest peak. The guilt exists, there is no doubt about that — even if there were no other guilt than that of the six million clay urns containing the ashes of incinerated Jews from all over Europe. And this guilt lies heavily upon the German people and the German name, even upon Christendom. For in our world and in our name have these things been done. (Sermons in Erlangen, Marburg, Göttingen and Frankfurt (January 1946), as quoted in Martin Niemöller, 1892-1984 (1984) by James Bentley, p. 177.) 

Death of Socrates

Martin Niemöller was not unique.  Long before Niemöller lived and died, Socrates of Athens, to the sorrow and loud lamentations of his students and friends, and even his wife who was never comforted according to the writings of Plato, drank the bitter hemlock required by the authorities who would not tolerate him living longer on the charge, initiated by his student Meletus, that Socrates “corrupted the youth” (δωροδοκία της νεολαίας) by having the students ask (and answer) questions in open dialogue even while the authorities were listening (Plato, Apology I.24c-24e: νομίζει ού νομίζοντα, ἕτερα δέ δαιμόνια καινά. τό μέν δὴ ἔγκλημα τοιοῦτόν έστιν: τούτου δέ τοῦ έγκλήματος ἓν ἕκαστον έξετάσωμεν. φησὶ γάρ δή τούς νέους άδικεῖν με διαφθείροντα. έγὼ δέ γε, ὦ ἄνδρες Άθηναῖοι, άδικεῖν φημι Μέλητον, ὅτι σπουδῇ χαριεντίζεται, ραδίως εἰς άγῶνα καθιστάς άνθρώπους, περὶ πραγμάτων προσποιούμενος σπουδάζειν καὶ κήδεσθαι ών οὐδὲν τούτῳ πώποτε έμέλησεν: ώς δέ τοῦτο οὕτως ἔχει, πειράσομαι καὶ ύμῖν έπιδεῖξαι. καί μοι δεῦρο, ὦ Μέλητε, εἰπέ: ἄλλο τι ἢ περὶ πλείστου ποιῇ ὅπως ώς βέλτιστοι οἱ νεώτεροι ἔσονται; ἔγωγε. ἴθι δή νυν εἰπὲ τούτοις, τίς αύτούς βελτίους ποιεῖ; δῆλον γάρ ὅτι οἶσθα, μέλον γέ σοι. τόν μὲν γάρ διαφθείροντα ἐξευρών, ώς φής, έμέ, εἰσάγεις τουτοισὶ καὶ κατηγορεῖς: τόν δὲ δὴ βελτίους ποιοῦντα ἴθι εἰπὲ καὶ μήνυσον αύτοῖς τίς ἐστιν. —όρᾷς, ὦ Μέλητε, ὅτι σιγᾷς καὶ ούκ ἔχεις εἰπεῖν; καίτοι ούκ αἰσχρόν σοι δοκεῖ εἶναι καὶ ἱκανόν τεκμήριον ού δὴ ἐγὼ λέγω, ὅτι σοι οὐδὲν μεμέληκεν; άλλ᾽ εἰπέ, ώγαθέ, τίς αύτούς άμείνους ποιεῖ; ἀλλά ού τοῦτο ἐρωτῶ, ὦ βέλτιστε άλλά τίς ἄνθρωπος, ὅστις πρῶτον καὶ αύτὸ τοῦτο οἶδε, τούς νόμους; ούτοι, ώ Σώκρατες, οἱ δικασταί. πῶς λέγεις, ὦ Μέλητε; οἵδε τούς νέους παιδεύειν οἷοί τέ εἰσι καὶ βελτίους ποιοῦσιν; μάλιστα. πότερον ἅπαντες, ἢ οἱ μέν αύτῶν, οἱ δ᾽ οὔ; ἅπαντες. εὖ γε νή τήν Ήραν λέγεις καὶ πολλὴν ἀφθονίαν τῶν ὠφελούντων. τί δὲ δή; οἱ δὲ άκροαταὶ βελτίους ποιοῦσιν; an excellent discussion is at http://www.gottwein.de/Grie/plat/apol0001.php). It is the Socratic Method that is among the earliest western strategies that gave heart and soul to education (cf. Plato, Republic 336c & 337a, Theaetetus 150c, Apology 23a; Xenophon, Memorabilia 4.4.9; Aristotle, Sophistical Refutations 183b7), but it is not unique, for the ancient Egyptians developed a strong pedagogy and encompassed numerous strategies for the sons of nobility and accountants that we find today even in the classrooms at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, London, and elsewhere—but these antecedents were rejected by my students at UNPRG, and I and within my academic pneuma (πνεύμα) they are the poorer for not knowing what helped develop modern pedagogy. This has spiraled for more than three-millennium with teachers of pedagogy and didactics speaking on matters that were unwanted and many refused to consider and modified and incorporated new ideas by a cornucopia of educational techniques and strategies offered by Bacon, Spinoza, Berkeley, Malthus, Jefferson, and others, for the past must be known if the present is to have vitality and there be a real future. To ignore the reality of the history of education and the history of learning strategies that is a handmaiden to philosophy in all academic situations is the gravest of all insults to the psychology of the students (http://chemconnections.org/modules/tandl_philosophy.html and http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/philosophy-of-teaching/philosophy-of-teaching-statement-focuses-on-student-learning/ cp. http://www.sasked.gov.sk.ca/docs/social/inst_philosophies/index.htm and http://www.highreach.com/highreach_cms/PhilosophybrApproach/tabid/80/Default.aspx with http://www.crlt.umich.edu/tstrategies/tstpts.php as strategies is a form of philosophy as seen at http://www.glresources.com/299.html on the global scale briefly reviewed at http://www4.ncsu.edu/unity/lockers/users/f/felder/public/Student-Centered.html which culminates in learning http://www.lauracandler.com/strategies/masterylearning.php). That the Director of the Postgraduate program in English at the university in Lambayeque would find fault with philosophy being taught with learning strategies shows not only the Director’s incompetence and ignorance of the field but his unfitness for the position and inability to manage to allow students to condemn the very subject they signed up for as it was taught in the same way learning strategies is taught at every major university throughout the nations of the First World from Canada and the USA to the UK and throughout Scandinavia and Europe. Perú’s students will be the poorer for the brevity of learning that a few pseudo-scholars demanded in their quest for a Master degree in English that none has a legitimate right or claim to possessing.

The second core quality is that good teachers and most of all outstanding educators must possess the ability to articulate their knowledge and expertise to their students in a manner that will not only communicate words but ideas and hypotheses, as well as to invite open discussions, philosophical dialogues and monologues, dissentions and arguments.  There is no absolute anywhere.  There is no man or woman who is infallible by definition or title or appointment or elevation by any group who claim superiority over others, nor has any individual the right or the commission to attempt to assume a position of a demigod or intercessor a direct line to any deity or monopoly on education and intelligence.  The good teacher and the outstanding educator know that knowledge acquisition is simple but true if learned objectively and encompasses, incorporates, and internalizes all aspects of knowledge from all fields and sciences and philosophy of knowledge—and then brands what is learned as the hallmark of the advancement of pure wisdom (καθαρή φρόνηση).  The outstanding educator urges, encourages and invites the students, one and all, to object, reject, interject, add to and subtract from what the teacher has taught—but with careful and copious citations (as nothing can be proven if it is found only in one book (or, as the ancients noted: ոչինչ չի կարող ապացուցել, որ ճշմարիտ է, եթե այն հայտնաբերվել միայն մեկ աղբյուր, կամ մեկ բանախոսի, կամ ուսուցչի կամ Աստծո կամ սուրբ գիրք), as no single book contains all the wisdom or the majesty of this evolving life and planet: немає жодної книги містить всі мудрості або велич цієї життя, що розвивається і планети), quality work defined as well written in a style that is clear, concise, concrete, complete and cogent, and (most of all) is crowned with a coronet that is emblazoned with detailed descriptions and definitions.

A good teacher and an outstanding scholar encourages by word and example all students to understand the material and reach out for more, to demand more answers from themselves and the materials that they use regardless if the source is potsherds or potshards, tablets or coins, scrolls or parchments, incunabula or texts, for knowledge is not limited by a single medium but encompasses the fullness of all forms of expressions including that which can be found in a few tracts of current date, for the serious student will seek out the ancient scrolls, the medieval marginalia and incunabula as well as all other markings be they on potsherds or cave paintings, in modern graffiti or in an idiom that is not yet current (it must be remembered that no one knew Egyptian before Napoleon’s forces discovered the Rosetta Stone; http://paganizingfaithofyeshua.netfirms.com/rosetta_stone_loss_egyptian_language.htm  cf. http://www.ancientegypt.co.uk/writing/rosetta.html; cp. Michel Chauveau (1997). L’Egypte au temps de Cléopâtre : 180-30 av. J.-C. [Paris] :

Rosetta Stone: Key to the ancient World

Hachette littératures), and to understand what it means both in plural and in singular format, word choice and definition.  One cannot only be a good translator, but must use and utilize that skill of translation to interpret meaning not based on modern ideology or local favor but one how the word was construed in its own day and by the people who used it: thus we can be lazy and cite ‘Adam (a Canaanite word for “mankind”) to be the name of a man: Adam, which it is not as seen in (Hebrew: אָדָם‎, Arabic: آدم‎; etymologically “Adam” is the masculine form of the noun adamah that means ground or earth and it is related to the words adom (red), admoni (ruddy) and dam (blood) so why do institutions of higher learning continue to propagate that which is false—most likely for the same reason that many of the professors, such as the one who took over my course in Learning Strategies, at UNPRG argues that learning strategies emerged (like Athena fully armed for battle sprang from the head of Zeus) spontaneously in 1980; see my book: Ide, Arthur Frederick (2011). Studying for and Working in Translation and Interpretation: Knowing What was Really Meant by What was Really Said. Chicago: Sepore.). 

A good teacher and excellent educator is willing to expend and expand the effort needed to find innovative, novel and creative ways to make complicated ideas understandable to their students, and to fit new ideas into the context available to the student. A good teacher can and will joyously explain complicated material in a way that students can understand and use while at the same time focusing on having each student conduct his or her own special inquiry into the subject and methodology for furthering knowledge by seeking out that which is not obvious, searching for truth as a buried treasure eager to be discovered and known by future generations.  A good teacher and solid scholar is one who not only proffers or gives information but makes certain that they student has the antecedent background to that information—not just spoon-feeds the students already know, or gives them the arguments they want to hear.  It is tragic, to say the least, that there are too many schools and universities throughout Perú, from Lima and its heavily endowed private schools, to the impoverished public schools in the provinces—like those throughout the world that employ teachers of low caliber and marginal resolve and no zest to advancing learning in the field of English language learning.

Emphasis must be on teaching: to disseminate information that will advance the conduct of inquiry and the development of a love for learning.  It comes when a teacher requires papers and conversations, symposiums and group work, but with the caveat that there must be originality and not mere copying. Citations must be given, credit accorded when material is used, and ownership of original ideas by students or the teacher recognized and heralded.  The singular great problem today, as it has been for centuries and even millennium, is that teachers are in many cases afraid of students and the barbarities that disgruntled students have shown themselves capable of exacting upon an unpopular teacher who requires more than mere memorization as if the students were all within the walls of a Madrasah (Arabic: مدرسة‎, madrasah plural is مدارس, madāris). The single most significant difference in the educational process is the attitude of teachers and students.  Whereas in the past (my past, for example, when I taught on Maui in 1968, teachers were honored, respected, and their advice sought out [I had at least two articles published each week by the local papers on academic topics as the people of Maui were eager to learn and found the expense of the paper to be worthwhile as they could read on a variety of topics, from the warrior Queen of ancient Britain who defeated Cesar of Rome, to the origins of World War I, and more] and frequently invited into private homes and public businesses.  The teachers were never well paid, but they were given a preeminent status so if a teacher was in a store to buy food, the citizens of Paia cleared the path with smiles and urged the teacher to go first, questioning only if their sons and daughters were mastering the material, arriving at the college on time and with their lessons learned and prepared to talk. That was forty-two years ago]. Today, it is not uncommon to see teachers attacked, vilified, libeled, slandered, and abused, but, fortunately, some teachers now take measures to protect themselves as cruelty to teachers is neither new nor limited to one locale and is found throughout the world. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1207631/Police-hunt-gang-youths-set-teachers-hair-alight-took-pupils-train-journey.html for UK, cp. http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/121496/Search-for-yobs-who-set-fire-to-teacher-s-hairSearch-for-yobs-who-set-fire-to-teacher-s-hairSearch-for-yobs-who-set-fire-to-teacher-s-hair; for USA http://www.shreveporttimes.com/article/20100801/NEWS04/101280002/Threatened-abused-teachers-speak?odyssey=nav|head and http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1P1-22543133.html and videos at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0EK0Qe7lKE and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hLZJQz6Ixk with even third graders planning murder at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OOty8-tVbc and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t77n_qS0YVg and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=If4VO0Av5Kg). South America, however, seems to have a disproportionate amount of attacks on teachers, especially teachers of English who are not native Spanish speakers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42Ua4cM83o0 and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4EOzWR0wM8&feature=related). Student frequently make up libelous and slanderous stories of incompetence on the part of the teacher, defaming the reputation of the teacher (defamation is defined as communication to third parties of false statements about a person that injure the reputation of or deter others from associating with that person) and the teacher’s credibility. In First World nations a teacher has the right to defend himself or herself, and frequently takes the student(s) to court and prosecutes them to the full extent of the law—and wins (http://www.wftv.com/news/17556276/detail.html and http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3805/is_200006/ai_n8897744/ and http://www.expertlaw.com/forums/showthread.php?t=790 and http://www.article19.org/advocacy/defamationmap/overview.html) large financial settlements, and at times prison terms for the students who created the fiction. This should never have to be the case, and it will only stop when faculty members are hired for their excellence and there is a public grievance committee and students are invited to address their concerns. The primary problem is that too many faculty members have a limited education and that the degree is not accessed based on scores, but rather based on a parchment that claims the teacher merits the rank of a professor and recognition of the closeness of the ties between teacher and principal or dean. In Perú, especially with the stranglehold on education squeeze by SUTEP, job offers are based not on what the teacher knows, but who the teacher knows.  Perú, like all nations, must restore the dignity of learning, and educate the citizenry about the benefits of learning fact over fiction, reality over fantasy, or the world will continue to pollute itself, destroying it nonrenewable natural resources and inflicting pain on everyone void of human and civil rights.

One comment to Teaching Realities, a Study of English Education in Perú

  • Stan Shipman  says:

    I really enjoyed reading your thoughts and ideas, Art. Fortunately, there still are institutions that place a high value on all that you hold dear as an educator. When coupled with genuine empathy for their students, people with a similar level of conviction can move mountains and still be fulfilled in the life of an educator. But as you pointed out, the lack of social values has seriously impaired the process.

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