On the Most Interesting Aspects of Working with Modern Children
A ‘teacher’ is an important word in every person’s life. For many people, a teacher is somebody who goes beyond the mere transmission of knowledge. On the eve of Teachers’ Day, the Global Women Media journalists interviewed Olga Zolotova, an expert in educational psychology. She told us about the role of modern educators and the nuances of working with today’s rising generation.
PhD in Psychology, existential-humanistic psychologist, therapeutic art-fencing coach
Olga Zolotova’s first education was related to teaching in elementary classes. Her second field of training is psychology. From the very beginning of her professional path, Olga Zolotova has been fully immersed in the educational process. She has been fond of interacting with teachers, heads of educational institutions, parents, and schoolchildren. Today, she delivers individual and group consultations, communicates much with students, and conducts interviews with applicants. The expert reveals their self-discipline and communication skills in addition to leadership potential and creative abilities.
Olga Zolotova is not only a professional having extensive experience but also a person with deep thinking and an interesting life position and it is always a pleasure to talk with her. In her interview with the Global Women Media news agency, the expert shared her vision of the modern educational process.
– What should modern teachers be like?
– I believe that the answer lies in that very word combination ‘modern teachers’. Most pedagogical principles and rules remain unchanged. However, a modern teacher is the one who can keep up with the times using his or her knowledge and experience and adapting the methods and approaches to today’s realities and new generation’s needs.
Some time ago, there was a widespread notion of ‘children with special educational needs’ in pedagogy. No more than 1 or 2 people in a class could be included in such a group. In most cases, lessons were carried out in the usual format and the teacher was guided by the needs of the general student audience. The term ‘inclusive education’ is becoming increasingly popular today. It is quite an interesting trend. People have allowed themselves to be more open and more sincere with one another. On the one hand, that has made the educational process more interesting and individually-oriented. On the other hand, a teacher’s work became much more difficult.
It is important for modern teachers to be able to see and accept the uniqueness of each schoolchild. Sometimes that requires bringing up a certain mindset within oneself.
To be able to see another person’s individual traits, understand them, and accept those students as they are, we often need to sort ourselves out. The way we perceive other people depends directly on what is happening within us, in our mind and consciousness. That is why a teacher, as a person influencing the formation of the personalities of his or her students, has to work on him- or herself constantly.
During my pedagogical studies, all the students were often reminded of a simple but important rule. The teacher is the one who always learns first. Teachers can only be modern when they are open to new knowledge and are able to accept different points of view and perspectives. He or she must not only transfer knowledge but also absorb it from his or her students. The younger generation has a lot to teach adults. It can show us a different side of the world. The main thing is to be open to these opportunities.
– What is your vision of the modern rising generation? What is special about them? What do you find most interesting in working with young people?
– Today’s rising generation is characterised by a high level of awareness. They are interesting interlocutors. Many young people already have clear life plans, goals, and an understanding of their future path.
Today, young people are sincerely concerned about global problems and the future of the world. Importantly, the rising generation is ready to act. They feel responsible for addressing cultural, social, political, environmental, and economic problems. For example, our students are actively involved in various activities and projects. They show initiative and enthusiasm without waiting for an invitation to action. That is really very encouraging.
This year, I interviewed the applicants of the International College for Arts and Communication (MKIK). It was a great pleasure to talk to them about different notions and values. When talking about professional fulfilment, the young people were very thoughtful about work. They unanimously expressed the desire to feel happy when doing their job. In their opinion, work brings the best results when it also brings pleasure to its performer. At the same time, happiness from one’s job should not ‘relax’ the professional but rather give energy and strength for even more efficient and fulfilling activities.
I am very inspired by the idea that the younger generation sees work not as a way of earning that limits the freedom of creativity but as the only way to develop spiritually and mentally.
Today’s children, in my opinion, can be characterised by openness, freedom in communication, and willingness to give feedback to the adult generation. That helps us, adults, understand them better. That feature of the younger generation also results in an important criterion of the modern educational environment: it is important to make sure that it is based on multilateral open communication. Teachers must communicate with their students who are not just ready for it but also looking forward to it.
– What principles should be the foundation of communication between teachers and students? Must teachers be friends with their students?
– I thought a lot about that. Recently, my students asked me whether I had found my vocation and the things inspiring me in my work. I answered that the most important thing for me was a lively meeting with my students and face-to-face communication. In my opinion, this is how communication should be structured in an educational environment.
First of all, it is important to make sure that a teacher sees people in his or her students and students see people in their teachers. Only after that the social roles shaping certain rules of communication begin to emerge. The behaviour models of teachers and students have their own characteristics and norms of discipline. However, they anyway presuppose the human attitude on which communication should be based.
Friendship is an important component of an effective education process. However, in this case, it has a little bit different connotation. The friendship between teachers and students lies in the ability to hear, respect, and understand each other. At the same time, it is important for students to realize that a teacher is not their equal fellow but rather their adult mentor.
– How can parents help teachers in establishing an effective education process?
– About 15 years ago, I firmly believed that schools themselves must be responsible for the education and upbringing processes. However, during one meeting of parents with teachers, one mother expressed an idea that changed my attitude to many things. That woman told about her own life principles, values, and guidelines that she wanted to teach her child. At that moment, I first thought about family and school having different tasks in children’s education and upbringing.
Schools help children acquire important knowledge and skills making it possible for them to fulfil themselves in the future. Thanks to schools, children can achieve the goals formulated by their parents in the process of their upbringing.
How can families contribute to establishing an effective educational process? I believe, firstly, by creating comfortable conditions for both studying and relaxing at home. The modern world is full of stressful factors influencing negatively the child’s efficiency. Stress and fatigue make it more difficult for a person to think and focus attention on important things. That is why the family’s task lies in establishing a right regime for children based on the balance of studies and rest, healthy nutrition and sleep. It will help children feel calm and distribute energy properly.
Of course, it is the family that brings up children’s behaviour since their early years. Parents can help teachers by teaching their children to establish communication in the educational environment properly.
– What would you wish all educators on the eve of Teachers’ Day?
– Always remember how important and useful their work is for the whole world. Each teacher puts part of him- or herself in any student. That is why it is vital for a teacher to adhere to clear human values and guidelines.
The main things that teachers and parents can give children are love and mercy. I wish people from all over the world to maintain these two important qualities in their hearts and fill others with them. We are the only ones who can shape a better future for the rising generations. We are the only ones to bring up our children in such a way so as to be proud and inspired when passing the future of the planet on to them.
Viktoria Gusakova, Global Women Media news agency
Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov