We just celebrated Teacher’s Day here in Singapore and I want to take this opportunity to reflect what it means to be a teacher. We should also broaden the definition. Teachers don’t come only from schools. It can be a relative, a family friend, your supervisors or peers.
In school, the focus may be on academic grades but it is the start of a long learning journey. The guidance that we get is often the foundation of what we will be, how we will behave, how we will treat each other later in life. Teaching is more a passion than a profession.
In the past week, I chatted with a friend who is teaching kids between 14 and 16 years of age. Interestingly, good grades never crop up during the conversation. It was all about challenges in growing up during the tumultuous period of transitioning into adulthood. The innocence of childhood is giving way to the realities of daily life. They start having their own thinking and mindset but yet, they are not mature and independent enough to exercise their decision. The fast changing world, peer and academic pressure, and in some cases, family problems put them into this confusing environment. Often, the most appropriate adult figure that they can trust are their teachers. Whether the teacher herself wants this responsibility, she is imparting extremely valuable lessons.
Back when I was the student, I didn’t think much about such things. It was just a passage of time through my childhood, someone in my way. We don’t say or show the appreciation to the teachers. But as we get older, we reminisce fondly not just the times we had with the school friends but also the teachers. Deep inside, we have an appreciation for them.
Why do we appreciate more of our teachers only later in life ? I guess when we were young, we had less life experience to compare with. We don’t like to be told what to do. As we grow up and experience more challenges, those lessons suddenly has more value in our eyes. Also, when we grow older and take on the role of teaching others, we appreciate the other side of the coin. We start to see the rebel in the mirror.
My friend also shared the satisfaction she gets. Here again, it is less about the grades her students got but the changes she sees in them. The school term is not long enough to observe that but over the years, that rebellious and rude teenager has morphed into the respectful young man. Or the lack of motivation has given way to a purposeful life. These are the achievements that really count; she had affected someone’s life for the better.
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires” – William Arthur Ward
Teaching isn’t the best paid job. It has to be a passion. It takes someone special to do it. I am very grateful and I am sure other parents will agree with me. We must do everything we can to help. As parents, we can make a big difference. We have the primary responsibility in the upbringing of our child. Instill the right set of values in our children and give our full support to the teachers.
Happy Teacher’s Day.