Born to teach?

Recently I bought some colourful maps to put on the walls for my two children. They were interested in seeing how far we had travelled during the Spring vacation, and how far we’d travelled from Australia to Japan last year. Upon seeing the new posters, my daughter got very excited, and immediately ran off to find a piece of paper to make a stick, sat her younger brother down, and began to point at the prefectures of Japan and recite the names out loud as she pointed to each one. She asked her brother to repeat. She praised him when he did so, and yelled at him when he tried to stand up and leave the room. Despite her teaching methodologies coming from the 1950s, I know that very possibly there will be another teacher in the family one day.

It got me thinking about the strength of genetics. I was told that I did the same thing to my own brother when I was younger. When I was ten I taught my younger sister to swim, making plans and checklists and even creating certificates for each milestone. Wow, why the hell wasn’t I in the popular group in school!?

As someone who has been involved in teacher training, I know that all types of people, all types of personalities, people of all types of backgrounds, can make a good teacher. All types of people can learn the knowledge and practice the skills needed to be a good teacher. All types of people can engage well with students. All types of people can create inclusive learning environments. And the list goes on ad nauseum.

Note I refer to ‘all types of people’ and not ‘all people’. I personally don’t believe that everyone can become a good teacher. You can read page after page online of lists of ‘what makes a great teacher’, or ‘the top 10 characteristics of a quality teacher’. While there are many courses we can take, books we can read, professionals we can consult, and skills we can practice, there are some qualities in a good teacher that are neither definable nor measurable. It is why discussions of aligning teacher remuneration with teacher quality are met with such anger. How do you define a good teacher? Tell me all of the secret ingredients and we can share the riches and respect!

So, watching my daughter teach her poor little brother who just wants to go and hit something with a bat, with a pointing stick in one hand, giving positive and negative reinforcement, I ponder, with my extremely limited knowledge of genetics, the existence of a ‘teaching’ gene. Are some of us born to teach? What do you think?



*When did you decide to become a teacher?
*Are there other teachers in your family?
*Do you think that anyone can ‘learn’ to be a good teacher?
*Do you think that some people are born to teach? Is there a ‘teaching’ gene?

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