Teacher is a profession from the God, all other professions are from the teacher. All of us remember the first teacher or the favorite subject teacher, who did not always go easy on us. Those years remain in memory as the most carefree and happy times. Within the time yesterday's pupils bring their own children and thoroughly choose a form tutor. ForUm has decided to find out about the life of modern Ukrainian teachers. In an interview with honored teacher, director of school #41 and president of the Ukrainian Association of school directors Olena Onats we've learned about latest developments and what changes mobile phones and Internet have brought in the schools.

- Has the profession of the teacher changed for the last years?

- Many things, like humanism, love to children, professionalism, remain the same. But now we have more advanced children, who come to school already with the knowledge of reading, writing, using a computer. They know how to analyze a situation, know plants and animals, know to distinguish geometrical figures. Children recognize the authority a professional, but he also must understand and love children. Modern teacher must be modern. It is not enough to know only his subject. It is difficult to teach: children are different and each has its own trajectory of individual development.

The secret of teacher's mastership is to find an approach to every pupil, to teach him to like studying. In the first grade the authority of a teacher is absolute, but in the third-forth grade children start thinking critically. In the fifth grade children start to adapt and challenge teachers. In order to keep up the motivation of pupils, teachers have to work a lot with these grades. Children like a lot lessons with modern technologies, especially online board. Unfortunately, not every school can afford it. Moreover, children don't like a lesson-monologue. Pupils like to participate and express their opinion. We try to teach teachers to use this method. 

We try to keep up. We always study new materials and methods, develop new structure of lessons, interesting for children, as every pupil requires individual approach. 

- Do you have many young teachers to come working in schools, or there is a lack of young professionals?

- Speaking about regions, only half of announced vacancies get occupied. Many young teachers, though, leave after half a year. The main reason is low salary. Especially it concerns young men. They must maintain the family, but the salary of a young teacher is not enough. In Kyiv, for example, there is a governmental financial support for young specialists - 30-50% of salary, but Kyiv prices are not low and some talented teachers come from regions, thus have to pay for rent. As a result, even with benefits the school salary is not enough.

Hungry teacher cannot teach properly, especially when he worries about his own family and children. Many people complain about extortions in schools. There are some negative cases, but in general, we ask for help. It's not our fault that the state cannot take care of schools. If somebody cannot help financially, can help with hands. Besides, this is a good example for children. There is a link among teachers, pupils and parents. If there is no unity among them, there will be no results from education. What you see here in the school was made with parent's hands. Parents should not dissociate from school, but be responsible and make the school a comfortable place for their kids.

Now in the school we have many young teachers. Some students are passing practice here and many come for permanent work after the graduation.

- What about the very pupils? Have they changed or remain always children?

- In some cases, children are always children. But there have been many talks about indigo children lately. I attended a conference once, during which the speakers announced research results of Russian scientists. According to the researches, children born after 2003 are different, more developed. They take the world in a different way, thus require individual approach. However, traditional teachers have always stood for centrist approach, meaning a child is always in the center. Children do change, as they live in a society and are hostages of this society, if you can say so.

- The newest technologies you were talking about, do they simplify teacher's work or do they make children more passive, as everything can be found on Internet now?

- There are several types of perception. Some people learn faster when they listen, others - when they read or write. However, the more types of memory are involved in the studying process the better the result. Modern technologies help to focus the information, and if a pupil makes the presentation himself using screens and colors, he will learn better. Besides, children like this.

- There is a new problem for schools - mobile phones. How do you deal with it?

- Indeed, it is a problem. There is an order to ban use of technical devices during lessons, and we ask all pupils to turn off the phones. However, we have children from other cities, and we understand that cell phones are their only connection with parents. The only thing we ask is to buy cheap phones. Children are inattentive and can easily lose the phone or left it somewhere and never find again. Moreover, some children take pictures without permission, and this is violation of privacy. Nevertheless, we understand that phones are not luxury, but a necessity.

- The world is developing really fast. Does the school program keep up with it?

- Despite the fact that we do a lot it is still not enough. I've been checking the manuals for first grades recently. There are many positive things, but I've also heard that the material is to complicated. We select manuals depending on the level of development of children in a class. The acceptance procedure is in May and we order books in July, thus we can tell what level we need.

However, I would prefer we have not only manuals, but the whole set (a book, an exercise book, a CD, manual for teachers), like "Oxford" edition has. Earlier we did not have English books in Ukrainians. This year they've issued them for the first time. But still it is not enough. We take the latest generation of Oxford books, also approved by the Education Ministry, which include various developmental exercises. Moreover, we have our own methods for development of memory and sensorimotor skills.  
Our first grade pupils have studied for one month already, and I can see that they like certain subjects, as "health basis" and "nature study".

- What do you think about the introduction of external independent testing system: is it better for children or not?

- Many pupils are afraid of tests. Those who did not study well have all reasons to be, but those who were doing fine during all schools years have nothing to fear. Such tests give children a possibility to enter university with real knowledge, not parents' money. Moreover, adequate employers search for qualified workers who know something, and such tests prove students' knowledge.

- The US education system allows pupils of certain age to choose school subject. Our education system, inherited after the USSR, does not provide this. Do you think we should replace the existing system?

- The system you are talking about exists not only in the US, but also in the Netherlands for example. The elementary school lasts until the age of 12. After 12 years, pupils go to the senior school where they can choose subjects. Moreover, in the elementary school children are tested by teachers and psychologists to determine kids' abilities and inclinations. The world experience proves that the elementary school must be separate from the senior one. Not always small children should see how a 17-year-old behaves.

Speaking about our realities, the possibility to choose subjects have already been implemented in the school. Starting from the eighth grade pupils can choose profession-oriented subjects. I am not speaking about conscious choice of future profession, but about general directions like man-man, man-machines, man-images, man-nature. Children do need a possibility to choose. Moreover, the number of subjects should exceed 6-8 matters. Now we have 14 in the school graduation paper, but it is impossible to learn them all and in full. In Poland or Chez Republic for example, the school program is determined by schools. The Education Ministry says what should be inside the program, but how schools realize it, nobody cares. In Ukraine, schools can work only with the programs approved by the Ministry. There are many good innovative programs, but we have no right to apply them unless there is permission.

Tetyana Hryhorieva, photos by Maxim Trebukhov

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