Let’s 勉強!

(By the way, 勉強, according to Usagi, means ‘study hard’ in Japanese.)

Last Wednesday in my MA class, I mentioned my previous post “Do teachers become more stupid after teaching for a few years?”. After the session, one of the teachers, Usagi, opened a new blog in which she would document what she could learn from her students in the next 60 days. She treats this as an experiment, and at the end of the 60 days, she will take stock of what she has learnt from her students. In doing so, she will be armed with something more concrete to answer the question whether teachers become more stupid as a result of teaching, which some teachers perceive as involving output only. Her blog is at:


It is a wonderful writing project that Usagi has embarked on!

And here is my response to her first post:

Given our culture (and I guess in Western societies too), it’s not easy for teachers to accept that they can learn something from their students. I think this has something to do with how we have been conditioned to define ‘knowledge’: I am a teacher; I have certain ‘knowledge’ that my students don’t have; they learn this knowledge from me; I don’t learn from them.

But if we are willing to expand our definition of ‘knowledge’, then there will be numerous things that we teachers can learn from our students. Here is one example:

Below is a short list of ‘things’ I have learnt, and can learn, from Usagi, who teaches English and Japanese at post-secondary level:

– the Japanese language;
– her experience in acquiring Japanese: this will enrich my understanding of how people acquire English as a second language;
– her experience in teaching Japanese; this will enrich my understanding of TESOL;
– her decision to go into teaching: How do people make career choices and decisions?
– her teaching materials: HOw do teachers apply their professional knowledge and creativity and experience in designing teaching resources?
– her time management: How can she be so productive?
– her willingness to learn from her students: How do some teachers view teaching?

And this is but only a short list. Now, I hope we’re more convinced that we CAN learn from our students.


One thought on “Let’s 勉強!

  1. Icy Lee

    I can’t agree more that we teachers can always learn from students.

    We can learn, from their frowns, that our lessons are not interesting.

    We can also learn, from their questions, that we have failed to give clear explanations.

    When we focus more on our students than ourselves, we can make our classroom a better place to learn.


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