Today is Saturday, and we gathered again inside St. Peter’s Parish in Commonwealth, Quezon City for our fifth session of the World Youth Parliament, where we watched some excerpts of a film and had heard a presentation from one group.
I arrived late for about 20 minutes so I was in a hurry to catch up with the film THE RON CLARK STORY, as it was showed inside the conference room. Ironically, this was the first time I ever heard about this movie or even this person, even though I have been teaching already for five years. As soon as I found a place to sit down, the scenes in the film had immediately grabbed my attention. The movie reveals the innovative approaches of Ron Clark in teaching his students in one troubled school in Harlem, New York, which apparently can be challenging to many teachers like me.
I have researched about him on the net and I found that Clark’s contributions to education have been so significant that he was even interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in her own television show and she had given him grants for his own Academy.
Furthermore, I have read that this made-for-tv movie that we had just recently watched has already been shown in the Philippines, but with a more catchy title The Triumph.
In the conference, Sister Angela continuously showed us around 4-5 clips of the film that she intended to discuss afterwards, although I still would recommend the full length of movie to be watched. But for the meantime, taking clips from Youtube was a brilliant idea so we could get ourselves started in taking lessons from this film, such as reflecting on Clark’s character, that goes in line with Education as our topic for the World Youth Parliament. I have written below a short summary of the valuable insights I had on the film and the lessons we learned as a group:
First, we believe that students should always be kept motivated to appreciate their truest sense in this world — and that is to reach their fullest potential in their craft so they can contribute to the advancement of the society.
In the first movie clip, Ron Clark notices an Indian-looking girl whom he feels is not welcomed by her classmates. So he approached her after class and explained that she shouldn’t feel bad on how she sees herself different from others. Since the girl wanted to become a doctor someday, he even encourages her to pursue that dream and had even addressed her already as “doctor” after their conversation, which I found very endearing.
This lesson reminded me too of what Sister Rose told us last week (May 19, 2012) during our 5th Session in WYP. She stressed the importance of nailing down the quality of good relationship in education between teachers and students. During our discussion, the group found out that one of the qualities to establish or maintain a good relationship inside the classrooms is for teachers to be “keen on details” with his/her students. A teacher should easily spot the telltale signs if a student is having trouble coping in school (or even on the subject) and therefore should be addressed immediately. This clip has shown that value and it has reinforced to me the idea that teachers should really make an extra effort to reach to their students, personally (although with some limited boundaries) and professionally.(See clip here.)
Second, teachers should learn how to be creative in their ways of teaching the students so they could facilitate attention and interest with them, thus fostering a more genial relationship.
In the second clip, Ron Clark found that most of his students had failed in their exams. As a consequence he had planned to punish his students, not with failing grades, but through a dance music popular to them known as street rap. This clip had captivated me for quite a while because Clark’s profession as a teacher, which I expected to be formal, presented a different way of penalizing his students, to an extent that he was looking awkward and downright hilarious in front of them. But he still pursued his action with the goal in mind to teach his students, until he got all of the class to participate, eventually gaining their trust and cooperation.
I have realized in this film that passion can create wonders that could attract people. It may be silly for Clark performing these stunts as a teacher but looks can only be skin deep if one has a clear goal or objective in mind.
If I were to relate my experience of teaching from Clark’s in the Philippines, it’s always hard to go against traditional teaching methods, which in my case is more rigid because I am inclined to the health sciences. But sometimes, and I do agree in the film that the best way of teaching is just to let yourself go and to be a uncoventional at times. Because for a teacher to be creative, he should be simply open to new ideas and to go beyond his own comfort zones. (See clip below.)
Do you know Ron Clark? What can you say about his style of teaching? Can it be possible also in our country?