Now that I am standing right before my University entrance exam, I want to have a look at which factors influence ones learning mood most:
1. The subject itself:
No matter how good the school, if you're not interested in what the guy in front of you is talking about, there's no way of getting it into your head. So what is the first thing to teach students is the relevance of a subject. This is probably also one of the reasons why my French is so poor:
My French teacher handed out some rules and once somebody in the class was unhappy with the way he teaches, he refers to them saying that according to rule n° 21, each and every student had to motivate himself to study. I think when you read something like this it's not hard to guess the number of genuinely interested students: right, 0.
2. The class.
This leads us to the second most important influence on the learning environment - the class itself. If you ever sat in one room with a bunch of totally uninterested guys it's nearly impossible to listen to the teacher, no matter how interested you are yourself. My present school force pupil to visit all classes, what of course increases the amount of uninterested pupils in one room - and just like a virus, disinterest spreads around a hot spot.
3. The teacher.
Last but not least, it's the teacher himself who is responsible for a good learning environment. Listening to that guy shambling through the room with attitude , explaining some facts, is by far more absorbing than listening to a mossback in dungarees standing in the front and expecting to be listened to.
Personally, I believe that the relationship between students and the teacher is crucial to the success of a lesson - and often enough also to whole life; it's much better to listen to a friend than to listen to an opponent. Thus the antiquated policy of certain schools, that puts the teachers officially over the students, actually leads to nothing but fights between teachers and students.
A teacher should be respected because of his vast knowledge, not just because of his mere position - a teacher who insists on discipline to gain power shows that he's not up to the students and therefore must use different means to get the class listening to him. As a result, both, the teacher and the students, lose - a classical school disaster, a trapdoor that still a lot of teachers fall through.
But on the other hand, preparing a good lesson demands tremendous efforts - and there's no objective inducement for teachers to take them, as they get their salary anyway, no matter how little they work. So in my opinion, a bonus system would be a very good solution for schools - and I am saying this in a time that banks are blamed for distributing bonuses!
How to measure a teacher's success then?
Here, a nationwide exam is necessary to compare pupils - otherwise, a teacher could just give high marks for cash. But this country is still by far too federal to ratify such a thing - so that's something we could learn from other countries, including China!