SLEEPING TEACHERS IN RUSSIA ANOTHER RESPONSE IS CALLED FOR!
By Stephen Wilson
(Moscow, Russia) - They can't quite believe it! For some Russians I spoke to were perplexed to hear that Jan Peczkis, a veteran science teacher, was fired from a Chicago public school for accidently falling asleep. It is even stranger to hear that this was due to him suffering from a particular illness which can be mastered and contained with particular methods.
If the said teacher had attempted to kill a pupil, or refused to turn up at his post, it might be explicable. But this is not clearly the case.
By those standards I should have been put on their 'Don't Hire list' long ago. Fortunately or unfortunately, I'm not an American citizen so I can't help improve their statistical accounts. I'm a private tutor, but I have had 20 years experience of teaching in various Russian schools, colleges and universities.
I did not doze off because of some illness or old age, but fatigue and the boring text a student was reading to me on one occasion. The student's reaction was at first shocking disbelief, to amusement. In fact, that tends to be the reaction of most students. They seldom explode in anger or inform on you, but express a mixture of shock, surprise, and then amusement. (I personally would disqualify myself from teaching, but my wife won't allow it and neither will some students.)
What is the logical answer to seeing a teacher doze off? Well, you certainly don't need to call a headmaster official or policeman! That type of reaction reminds me of the neighbor who complained about a leaking pipe in my bathroom. Instead of calling a plumber, they called a policeman! The reasonable response is to waken the teacher up so he or she can carry on the lesson. If the dozing off becomes a habit, the teacher might inquire why this situation occurs and take measures to control it. Dozing off need not prevent teaching if you waken up the teacher. It is that simple!
A few years ago I was teaching English to a student of physics from Moscow State University where his professor would doze off from time to time. He often might get an assistant to help continue the lecture. How did the students react to this dozing oof? They did not phone an official. Instead, they just laughed it off. The funny incident cheered them up and they liked the professor even more. He had brought his students unintended joy!
Incidently, there was also a student who kept on coming to his lecture hall and falling asleep just before his lecture began. This went on for a few weeks. The professor decided to wake him up and informed him 'Why are you always sleeping through the physics lecture?
'The student was shocked and answered, 'I have been coming to the wrong lecture. I should be in the maths lecture hall!' and he flew out in panic!
The physics professor's dozing off never prevented him from doing a diligent job. They did not put him on a 'Don't Hire List'. The man is a genius and not that many people want to return to the Soviet era of informers lurking everywhere no matter what newspapers might suggest.
Evidently, the Chicago school officials have lost practical common sense not to mention logic.
Instead of analyzing and helping teachers, they rush into 'discipline and punish'.
By the way, as a teacher of English as a foreign language, I often simulate falling asleep to provoke the students into speaking more practical English. They learn to shout 'Waken up Stephen! You must remember. Don't forget we have an English lesson!'
They quickly learn new words, such as 'forget' and 'remember' and 'lazy'. So falling asleep in the classroom has its uses.