Monday, March 12, 2007

The art of teaching

Everyone has had teachers. Some were kind, some were fierce, some were caring. Some loved giving rewards, some liked to punish, and some liked to let things be. Some teachers leave an impressive mark on the student - always being remembered and kept in thought. On the other hand, some teachers leave a scar on the students, only garnished with bitterment and hatred. I hope that I have left more memorable momentos, than horrible hullabaloos to those I have taught...

Regardless of how important the teaching profession has been acknowledged as, it is still under-rated in Malaysia. My friends and I used to query, is teaching a profession? Does it have the same effect as accountants, doctors, lawyers and architects? Is it a profession well-paid and looked up at? The answer - a mixture of yes and no, with more weighing towards a NO.

The first ambition I had as a young girl was to be a teacher. Okay, that was perhaps insignificant as every child must have wanted to become a teacher when they were younger! Still, among all the other ambitions I had, being a teacher was one that really grew in me. I loved children and I loved the idea of sharing with another. I could never picture myself in an office 9 - 5 or any where else. I have always wanted to become a teacher. Teacher, Tutor, Lecturer - is there any difference? An educator or nurturer is perhaps more apt then. Nonetheless, I am more comfortable with the title TEACHER because that's what I do: teach.

There are people who swear that they make lousy teachers. Some say they don't have the patience. A handful say it's the last resort and I believe many actually think so. Think of the thousands of teachers serving in schools back home. Are they there because of choice or because there's no other choice? Among the common reasons are:
  1. not good results for SPM - parents decide: go to a teaching college
  2. a secure job with the government
  3. easy work - half day (so they think)
  4. for ladies - best job to run a family with
  5. anyone can get away with teaching- you don't even have to be trained (SPM would be enough to teach kindergarten kids, a Masters is adequate for teaching university students)

They're probably all right. These are valid enough reasons to become a teacher. However, along the way, some other realisation should have sprouted: the genuine inspiration and motivation to share the wonders of God. And to do so, one has to portray positive values, preserve high discipline and exhibit excellent professionalism. It's not only about the content or knowledge you're passing on, but the whole being - how punctual you are, how ethical you are, how systematic you are, and how helpful you are.

It's a long way from Teacher's Day yet I'm writing this mumbo-jumbo. I recall some encounters with my ex-students some years ago. One rather thoughtful one was one of an Indian girl. She was in one of the last classes and could hardly read. Mind you, this was an SPM candidate! The lessons I had with them were always very simple and very guided. To most teachers, they were hopeless. To me, if they came to school, then they had to be some level of hope and it was unfair for teachers to have such preconceived notions. I aimed that they at least passed.

When I met her at Ikea some years back, she was happy to approach me and say Hello. And, in an instant, I remembered her name! The girl was not famous and hardly popular but I could actually recall her name! Her difficult life had forced her to marry at a young age and even had a little daughter. She was doing some part-time studying to improve her English! I was very impressed. On that day, she gave us her staff discount which was a whooping 15%!! MrD was indeed very delighted.

On other occasions that I stumble into someone I have taught, I usually leave feeling a rush of excitement and fulfillment. That is perhaps the most wonderful gift a student can give a teacher: the acknowledgement and prayers for a better tomorrow. Though there are some who shy away and pretend they don't know you, I hope that there's no scar there.


k.d said...

My mom was a teacher..and she was a scary one!! To me anyway..her students all love her...heheh

Restless said...

Ditto to everything you have written!

ruby ahmad said...

Hi D,

You were a teacher??? Oh wow wow wow! You know something D..I rasa so proud of you. I can imagine what a wonderful teacher you made and I rasa rugi nya you are taken away from teaching (to my own selfish thoughts not considering your needs..apologies ha ha).

The way you write, I can imagine how many students must have benefited from your dedication and sincerity.

The likes of you, may I suggest, should be invited to motivate the other teachres and be just like you. That's my high believe in you as a teacher, a profession I respect quite (read: very very) highly indeed. Kudos and luv ya already.

Intan said...

My youngest girl nina was a slow learner and by the time she was in primary 4, i realised i couldn't help her anymore and i had to sent her for tuition. she was always being teased by her elders for being the dumb one.

Her tutor, puan subha, who was also her school teacher, guided her for the next 5 years. Nina was a very timid girl, but with puan subha's guidance and encouragement, she started to ask questions even in school.

Nina is now one of the top students in her school and, most importantly, she has also gained confidence.

I always think that teachers and doctors are the 2 best professions... both makes us better.

er, ur comment space ni mesti sign in otherwise i can't publish.

D said...

I guess teaching has always been a popular profession (my parents were both teachers too!!)

we're sailing the same boat, eh?

you're too kind with your words. I am nowhere close to being marvelled upon! still, fret not, I don't think I'll retired from being a humble teacher just yet(couldn't resist the temptation to teach - I have an interview this week!!)

it's a shame that our education system demands extra coaching for our kids to be able to survive. We send our children to school to learn, yet we have to send them for tuition to survive school. Ironic!! I often cringe at the unsightly tuition fees charged in the fast lanes of urban living, which is perhaps why I've decided to bring up my children here (no stress, no ridiculous competition!). Anyway, kudos to Puan Subha.

cikdinz said...

my sis was a teacher.
now doing degree at Maktab Perguruan Batu Pahat....

13may said...

saya penah kena sepak ngan cikgu....sampai sekrg dok geram.....

dia ada problem ngan bini...ada ka patut dia mai belasah saya....cisss!!!

D said...

hidup cikgu!!!

tu lah contoh cikgu tak de profesionalism. masih berbekas ka???

D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NJ said...

Salam perkenalan. Was hopping from Intan’s.

I have no doubt teaching IS a profession just like doctors, accountants, engineers, etc. In fact since teachers are the professionals we all encounter from kindy to uni times, I wud say it is one of the most honorable professions of all.

Happy upcoming teachers day to you!

NJ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mama Sarah said...

When I was in school, I used to wonder - why does a teacher get so little compared to a Prime Minister? Sedangkan a teacher yang penat lelah mendidik seorang tu sehingga jadi somebody big. Logic thinking masa tu - cikgu deserve MORE than any other professions!

(sorry cikgu, bahasa campur aduk)

D said...

any ideas how we can make teaching a more noble and honest profession?

err... I think you deserve an A+ for that comment! Amacam, ok tak?

Idham said...

D...:) wow wow owwww...

i was once a lecturer after graduating i went back to malaysia and enrolled into a dip in eductaion at ukm...hehehe...after one week, i cabut lari...went to mengadap kememterian pendidikan minta di release kan...

but but, i am passionate abt teaching, it is just that i dont like to follow the rules and procedures...:)


Ibu said...

ibu dulu masa kecik2 nak jadi cikgu sebab...... nak "tanda" buku. Hahaha!!!

D said...

a lecturer wannabe, eh? can imagine how you 'cabut' lari!! LOL!

i wonder whether your interest in marking books would have remained if you're still one! Imagine the tens of essays to read and mark!! We burn the midnight oil to do that!

loveujordan said...

Interesting topic...

I used to be a teacher and I loved all my students so much.

A good teacher is not only teaching at school ... it's about educating students to be good citizens.

Anak-anak I semua tak minat nak jadi cikgu, diaorang kata kerja susah dan gaji sikit....I selalu kata pada diaorang kerja cikgu suci dan memang kalau nak kaya tak boleh jadi cikgu kerana mendidik lebih kepada kebajikan bukan keuntungan fizikal.

Anonymous said...

d...I got a surprise from two students who gave me a mug and a cute card, for something I did. The mug is handmade, with a sculpture of a cow. Hubby said who knows, it could be a message to say that I was as stupid as the cow..he had a good laugh with it..urghhh!

Darling said...

my mum penah suruh jadi cikgu but opkos i cant.. kang ada lak ramai anak murid kena dera hehehe..

D said...

how true - mendidik untuk kebajikan, bukan untuk keuntungan fizikal. semoga setiap pendidik sependapat. sekarang ni orang ramai charge 'by the hour', something I can never get myself to do.

HaHa! Dont take the cow too seriously... It may also be a symbol of how you have transformed a cow to a... human? LOL!

belum cuba belum tau. As long as you have good training, it'll rub in you, InsyaAllah..

Ajzie said...

mother in law pesara guru, father in law guru pula pesara guru besar. Kata husband, mil masa jadi cikgu garang juga org sampai sekrang bekas2 anak murid dan family masih datang ke rumah berhari raya..

D said...

sama lah kita. my dad was a teacher, then retired as a lecturer. my late mom was a teacher. MIL and FIL memang teacher, with MIL retiring as guru besar. anak-anak I tak tau la nanti...