Last week I wrote a post on the challenges of teaching shy students. I gave an account of my struggles with one particularly shy student and the strategy I used to get him to talk. I have great empathy for the child that is too afraid to speak and understand the frustrations involved when teaching such a student.
However, I feel a bit uneasy about a recent study that promotes conversation via Twitter between shy student and their teacher.
The Courier-Mail reports new research from Southern Cross University has found strong benefits for the use of Twitter by students too embarrassed or uncomfortable to ask teachers questions in the time-honoured raised-hand method.
Southern Cross business lecturer Jeremy Novak, along with Central Queensland University’s Dr Michael Cowling, studied the use of Twitter among university students as a method for asking questions and gaining feedback without having to stand the stares and scrutiny of fellow students.
The positive feedback from students, particularly international students, has convinced the research team the use of Twitter technology could also be embraced by classrooms at high school and even primary school level.
In my opinion, shyness is not a genetic disease or impenetrable condition. To me, shyness is a result of a lack of self-esteem. Shy children act that way because they don’t feel valued. Instead, they feel judged, ostracised or labelled.
A teacher can do one of two things. They can either enable the shy student by using Twitter, or they can actually attempt to help that student find their feet and feel good about themselves.
“But who has the time for that? We have the curriculum to cover!”
This line sums up my frustrations with current educational thinking (as perpetuated through teacher training programs). In my opinion, it is every bit as important for a teacher to assist their students in matters of self-confidence as it is for them to teach them the curriculum. In fact, I would suggest that it is more important. Facts are learnt and forgotten. The average person on the street has long forgotten calculus and how many chemical elements make up the periodic table. What they wouldn’t have forgotten is how they were treated and how their experiences at school have changed them for the better or worse.
Why placate a shy person when you can change a shy person? Why play the game when you can show them that they have a voice and it’s special and unique and something to be proud of.
And besides, receiving Tweets in class is so unprofessional.What, am I supposed to stop my class so I can check my phone for a Tweet?
Trust me, as good a feeling as it is to teach children new skills or concepts, helping a child discover that they are important and that their thoughts and opinions matter is so much more rewarding.
Tags: Central Queensland University, Child Welfare, Children, Dr Michael Cowling, Education, facebook, Generation Y, Jeremy Novak, kids, life, News, Parenting, primary school, Shyness, social media, Southern Cross University, Teachers, Twitter