Lesson 52: Students are What the Teachers are

Most human behavior learn from modeling, 
Recently, I realized that children tend to learn what they see.

There was once when I observed Coach A’s class. Coach A was very gentle and soft-spoken which attracted a lot of students. In addition, most of her students appeared to be like her. When they meet anyone, they would smiled and said, "Hi!" Regardless of lesson time or game time, they behaved gently. It was as if staying in heaven when I was surrounded by these children.

On the other hand, it was totally different in Coach B's class. Coach B was very strict and always told the students, "You cannot do this, or ELSE, minus your mark!" Whenever any student broke the rules, he would give a stern rebuke, "Why did you do this? Didn't I tell you not to do this? Minus mark!" All the students were afraid of him. The funny part was, when he was not with the students, they would tell the students who were a little bit naughty to behave themselves, eg. "Don't do this, or ELSE, you will be minus mark!" Whenever there were students who broke the rules, other students would scolded them, "Why did you do that? You'll be minus mark!"

"Through others we become ourselves." Lev S. Vygotsky (former Soviet developmental psychologist)

Children are watching you and imitating you, all the time, thus you shall not neglect any little details.

My words and my actions had sipped into their mind unconsciously even though I was just a coach who handled them for 2 hours per week. A parent once told me, "My child is not afraid of going to the stage for story telling anymore. She said that her coach told her to be brave!" Even though I knew that the children would learn and change gradually, I really realized the effect of "influence" when i heard the testimonial from the parent.

Imitating, is observational learning in psychology (1). Bandura said, most human behavior learn from modeling, observing. For instance, we imitated our parents and siblings to learn brushing teeth. We followed the way they brushed their teeth. using utensils, speaking, writing, wearing clothes, exercising and even driving, are learned through observing. First we observe, then we imitate. Through observing, we learn a lot of things, including life attitude and behaviors. Hence, it is common to see that most of the children and parents are alike. Whether the children have manners, or short-tempered or not, are influenced deeply by the parents.

However, when the children go to the school, tuitions, co-curricular activities or sports training, the teachers and the coaches become the role model for the children. Hence, the one who teaches the children is important. Being a teacher or a coach, we must always be aware that, every word and every actions that we showed will be imitated by the children. If the teacher is well-behaved, the children will follow, and vice versa. 

The Great Teacher, Confuscious, emphasized teaching by example more than teaching by talking. Once Confuscious met a child named Xiang Tuo, who blocked his horse cart's way while he was travelling. After Confuscious had a conversation with him, Confuscious realized that Xiang Tuo was far more knowledgable than him. So Confuscious decided to treat the child as his teacher. Meanwhile Confuscious turned to his students and taught them that, "There must be a teacher among three persons", advising his students that they shall not feel ashamed to learn from a younger person (2). Confuscious had been showing good examples to his students which was respected and learned by his students.

When people see something, they think about what they see; when they hear something, they think about what they hear. Therefore, you should let them see, hear and think about correct things and good things (Joshua J)

This is the reason why a well-mannered and well-behaved teacher can be the role model to his students. If you are sincere in teaching children and wanting to make them better, please be the correct model first.
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