Why teachers have to be great communicators

Post date: Sep 19, 2016 11:44:01 AM

"The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt." – Bertrand Russell

As most of you know by now, I teach at a university. So you could say that public speaking is my way of making a living. But to be honest I think myself (and teachers as a whole) are not too good at communicating. There are some reasons for that.

First of all, we university teachers don't study to be teachers but for the subject. So I had to read and enroll in courses to know how to teach.

Also, we tend to rely too much on powerpoint. But, teaching is not much about long lectures anymore: students don't pay attention to lectures because the information evoked by the teacher in a lesson can be downloaded in seconds by googling some words. So the presentations are nowadays pointless and expert advice on teaching is being diverted towards student-centered education. (Which means that we must focus in what the student does during classes not what the teacher does.)

Nonetheless, we teachers still should be great communicators. This has two ways.

We have to do classroom management (that means controlling students: hey you, turn off the cellphone; hey you, turn off the screen; hey you shut up... that sort of thing you'd expect in primary schools still happens in college). So of course we have to explain the materials, give instructions, provide feedback, and actually _inspire_ the students. Well it sounds easy but it is not a piece of cake and it may take a whole life to master it. So that means that now I suck less that what I sucked at the very beginning of my teaching career.

That is one thing. But there's more: with teaching comes research. And with research comes social responsibility. Society asks the university and teachers about an issue: today, violence; tomorrow, freedom; after that, democracy, and we have to provide answers (sound, articulated, nerdy answers)... FAST.

And those are the reasons teachers have to be great communicators... if we aspire to give back to society.