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:
- not good results for SPM - parents decide: go to a teaching college
- a secure job with the government
- easy work - half day (so they think)
- for ladies - best job to run a family with
- 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.