Although all teachers have different styles and methods, they all have the same basic aims for their students. How they rank them in importance will vary – not only between teachers, but between age groups, ability and setting. As a student it’s worth thinking about what you really want to get out of lessons, as opposed to what you say to your friends or parents about what you want. That doesn’t mean you need to be totally open with everyone about your choices – but you do need to be honest with yourself. If you really don’t care about your grades, then stop trying to convince anyone that you’re working towards an A*.
Teachers want their students to learn. They want to pass on knowledge, skills and understanding that matter. Sometimes they’re relevant in ‘real life’. Sometimes they’re important foundations for future study, either compulsory or optional. Sometimes it’s just a beautiful, fascinating fact that is beautiful for its own sake.
As hard as it may be to believe, teachers want their students to enjoy the lessons – if for no other reason than helping to manage the classroom. Teachers don’t want to be hated, and they don’t actively want students to be unhappy, any more than a football coach ‘likes’ seeing team members sweating and cursing. The hope is that the result at the end, the enjoyment of understanding the idea, is worth the hard work.
As a student, it often feels like the only reason to come to lessons, or to do any work, is to achieve in the exams. Of course they matter, and for some students they matter a lot. The truth is that exams don’t perfectly measure understanding or knowledge. You can understand the ideas but still answer a question wrong, or use the right words to ‘demonstrate’ an understanding you don’t really have. Coursework and practical exams are other, also imperfect ways, to show you know the subject. Doing well in any of them means knowing how the assessment works as well as knowing the material, and your teachers will also be passing these skills on to you during the course.
So, once you’ve thought through these ideas, ask yourself a question. Do you want to learn, enjoy and achieve? Forget for a moment whether you think it’s possible, or likely. Do you want to? Because if you do – and most students do, although perhaps not in that order – then you and your teacher have that in common.