Q: What do you have in common with your teachers?
A: One thing that I always thought that was lacking in my ability to relate to teachers is that none of the teachers in my life have been black, which really shows the lack of diversity in education.
However, I typically have had a lot of common interests with my teachers in high school. I remember frequently nerding out over the newest tech trends with my computer programming teacher and talking about the future of Artificial Intelligence with the head of my high school department.
In both high school and college, I have found that my teachers and I both strive to make the world a better place. Many times when I asked some of them why they decided to teach despite the growing wage gap they would say that they love what they do and they feel it is their responsibility to create passionate and engaged students.
Q: Does it matter that students and teachers have things in common?
A: Yes, I wholeheartedly believe that it does matter that teachers and students can relate to each other.
Because of the common interests I shared with the teachers and administrators in my life, I have always felt much better about being able to express myself in academia. Instead of feeling like classes where a prison where I had to purely learn everything in the same way as others, it became apparent that everything that I was learning could be applied to areas of interest.
For instance, I found chemistry really challenging at times. So my chemistry teachers, knowing that I loved neuroscience suggested that I try to relate chemistry to the brain by looking into the way neurotransmitters work. After that, I had a whole new outlook on not only the properties of chemistry, but also on the way external stimuli can affect the ever growing and shaping neurological pathways in our own minds. Because of how cool I found the subject of Neurochemistry I got the opportunity to do my high school chemistry final on the effects of THC on the brain and because of how much I enjoyed doing that project I even decided to pursue a degree in Neuroscience. This is to show you that when you are able to relate to a teacher and when they have a genuine interest in you and your passions, education can be taken from something one dreads to something to be loved and passionate about to no end.
Education has the potential to change the lives of children and be something that they will treasure forever, but that depends on how much the teacher and the student are able to work together. It also may depend on how much the teacher is able to inspire that student.
Even now in college, I am still able to connect with my teachers about different parts of the subject they teach that I find interesting. In general, I have found that they really appreciate it because it shows passion about the subject they teach and they too enjoy relating to their students.
Cameron is a freshman at Connecticut College where he is a TED-Ed club leader. Connect with him on Twitter @Cameronaaron4.
Photo (c) 2017 Kristin Leong
Humanizing the gaps separating teachers and students.