I just have to release. Just a few minutes ago, I had a heated discussion about something petty – computer chargers and ports. In this conversation, I was the “student” learning about his problem. Studying a non-engineering major, he began his explanation with terms that were a little vague. Being a responsive listener, I was trying to check whether I was on the same page by clarifying his terms with the jargons I know in engineering. I guess the organization of ideas in his explanation was in itself weak which made me snap a bit when he injected me with a question, “GETS?!” It had a tone of contempt and frustration, in my opinion.
I can say that I’m not the best teacher in the world. I sometimes get lazy linking ideas when I explain, hoping along the way the listener will eventually understand what I’m trying to say. However, when I know the person needs intense explanation, I breakdown the ideas like the person is in elementary. I may have short patience but I will never inject a sign of contempt or frustation. It does not help the situation at all. It doesn’t help the student learn faster as it lowers the student’s self esteem. Igniting one’s frustration is also a waste of energy.
I am always conscious about my tone when I try to explain something no matter how frustrated I am. Maybe at times I fail, but I try my best. I read something about this in one of Malcolm Gladwell’s books. I think it was about how the possibility of divorce is related to a couple’s conversation having contempt. It was a life changing lesson that made me say to myself, “I will never say anything with contempt no matter how frustrated I am.”
Thanks to Google, I found what I was looking for regarding Malcolm Gladwell’s writing. I was talking about his book, Blink. Let me quote the site.
The fourth danger sign, contempt, is the greatest predictor of divorce. It’s the single most important sign that the marriage is in trouble. In fact, Gottman reports that having your significant other hold you in disgust is so stressful that it can have a negative effect on your immune system.
As reported in Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell, Gottman says that you might think that criticism would be the most harmful because it’s a “global condemnation of a person’s character.” But contempt is more harmful, he says, because “it’s trying to put that person on a lower plane than you. It’s hierarchical.”
Source: Stop Walking on Eggshells
I admire teachers for their patience. I can just imagine the frustration in teaching one person, how else teaching a whole class. Thank you to all of you out there who got frustrated with me and did not show it! (haha!)