The questions we need to ask

Yasmin Jayathirtha

secondary-science What problems does a teacher with more than 25 years of teaching experience face? Starting or trainee teachers may feel-NONE! You not only know the subject, you are very familiar with the material you need to teach, you know the examination. Having taught many students you know what problems they may encounter.

This very experience becomes a handicap; how do you respond with freshness to each class and how do you keep from getting bored? How do you remember the times that you found learning new stuff difficult?

Personally, I am interested in science in general and chemistry in particular. This means that I have always read about new developments in science and gathered doable experiments to illustrate concepts that are taught. Since I had been a research scientist earlier, I knew the importance of framing and asking questions. I had all the tools needed to make my classes productive and interesting. And students did find my classes interesting – I could link together concepts from various fields and recommend books to read and tell interesting anecdotes. Then, some years ago, I got challenged and that changed the way I taught and what I considered a good class.

My colleague, Usha Mukunda, said to me, “You know, the problem is that you are too good at your subjects.”
“How is that a problem?”
“Well, you explain things very clearly and can make it interesting. How do students learn for themselves or grapple with difficult ideas?”

The author works with Centre for Learning, Bengaluru. She can be reached at

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