Do you find that you work best with a nice teacher, or a mean teacher?
I'd guess that most of us want a nice teacher, but perversely, a lot of people find fear to be a strong motivator. While some people thrive when they feel safe, others find they get too comfortable and complacent.
During my student years I experienced a number of personalities in teachers. Fortunately, my primary teacher during childhood was quite a gentle guide. I was already anxious enough, and I don't think I would have responded well to a harsh approach.
After that, though, I did experience several teachers that could be extremely scary. One case was very interesting: one teacher who inspired absolute dread and fear in nearly everyone was actually extremely effective in getting people to play well. In fact, I liked this teacher despite the very real anxiety - because we played so well! But this person had a sort of reckoning and then a rather major change in approach. Somewhat to my surprise, the kinder approach that came afterwards was actually just as effective and just as clever, without the fear.
I would probably have to say that I prefer a "nice" teacher. And "nice" does not actually mean lax, overly tolerant or lacking in standards. A "nice" teacher can be extremely demanding and persistent, just without the fear or abuse.
That said, I've had people say to me, "I need a mean teacher. I need the fear to motivate me." And I myself have found myself motivated by teachers who have been angry, who yell, who say demeaning things.
How do you feel about it? Have you had nice teachers, mean ones, or both? To which kind of teacher did you respond best? If you are a teacher, are you nice, or mean? Would your students agree? And of course I know that this is a simplistic way to categorize teachers, but think of it this way: have you been motivated by fear? Or by a feeling of safety?
Please pick the best answer for you, and then tell us your thoughts in the comments section.
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