Monday, February 22, 2010

Inferiority Complex

I remember when I was in university, I read about different teaching profiles. There was a list. For example, there are some teachers who act like businessmen, some who act like mothers, some who act like drill sergeants, and so on.

I have this vision in my head of the ideal teacher in the ideal situation. It is a woman. She speaks standing in front of the students with animated enthusiasm. As the students work diligently and quietly, seated in rows of desks, the teacher moves from student to student, hovering over each child momentarily, inspecting their progress, commenting, encouraging and assisting as she touches their worksheets with an extended finger. This is my fantasy. This is the perfect teacher.

I constantly measure myself against this ideal and fall short. I do not deliver lively lectures; I do not have mute students; I do not step from desk to desk, monitoring student progress.

I feel inferior. I am not the perfect teacher.

This psychological paradigm is not unusual for me and it is not limited to my professional life. Speaking psycho-analytically, my super-ego habitually measures my ego against unattainable ideals. The super-ego then punishes the ego with painful guilt for its inevitable inferiority. Freud 101.

As for teaching, it would be beneficial for me to remind myself that there is not a single correct method. Each teacher must find a style that suits their personality. For me, the businessman model feels comfortable: professional, industrious, reserved. I need to allow myself to be the teacher I am, and accept that my style is good. It does not require improvement.

As a final thought, I would mention that no metaphor is perfect. A teacher is not a businessman. In some ways I am like a parent, I am like a coach, I am like a counselor, I am like a friend. But I am not entirely any one of these things.

Photo by poeticaldistractions.


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