I AGREE with R. Mani Maran on “Varsity lecturers with PhD still need training”. (NST, Sept 5).
The PhD is an examination degree that gets insightful individuals to excel in a specific subject area.
It isn’t especially appealing to individuals with profound pedagogical interests. Individuals with profound exploration interests do not have a tendency for instructing students in the nuts and bolts of their fields of study.
One cannot be a good educator without years of experience and deep commitment to the practice and students.
While those with PhDs can be excellent teachers, a PhD doesn’t make one an expert on all subject matters.
Even a master’s degree doesn’t necessarily make for a better teacher.
Teaching is both an art and a science. Mastering subjects falls under science. But the art lies in relating to students, making them feel valued and knowing how to inspire them without indulging them. You can teach the theory behind those “soft skills”, but the practice of it can only be learnt on the job.
Anyway, it isn’t a head full of theories that makes a good teacher. It is the ability to relate learning to the student’s own world and that does not require multiple degrees.
It needs an everyday understanding about what makes students tick.
PhD teachers, too, without exception, seem unable to bring their high knowledge down to the level where it was relevant and understood by students. Maybe it is due to their high esteem.
Malaysian educators who are in DG (Darjat Guru) grades are different from the university lecturers DS (Darjat Syarahan), polytechnic lecturers DH (Darjat Higher Education) and UiTM lecturers DM (Darjat Mengajar). The darjat that educators are holding tells what they should do and who they are.
Darjat Guru is “to teach”, Darjat Syarahan is “to lecture” and so on. But, yet, the senior generation of DG teachers is taught in universities by DS, though some were from maktab perguruan. Thus, it suits more for the postgraduates to help out more in research and development by producing papers of research interest locally and abroad.