Wednesday, February 09, 2011


Is it a sign, a warning, or mere coincidence?

Been bumping into my former students everywhere. Either Singapore is really tiny, or many kids passed through my classroom.

It is hard to know how to respond, since most of the time, I have forgotten their names, though how clearly I remember my experiences with each of them. Some had been delightful to teach, some were bright but distant, and a few left a dreadful taste in the mouth long after they are gone. About the last group, one is too many.

There were students who were ungratefully demanding, and students who made remarks as if teachers had no feelings. We used to joke wryly that students think teachers go into cold storage after school, to be activated only in the next morning. Frankly, I think this kind of hurt is the reason teachers burn out and give up. Hard work may break one’s back, but discouragement kills one’s spirit.

It occurred to me that whether I return to the classroom, I have to forgive these students who made teaching such an uncomfortable profession to be in. There is no excuse for their behaviour, but I would be foolish to carry this baggage any longer. They have moved on and so should I.

I suppose people see parents and teachers in the same light – they are expected to give unstintingly without complaint, and to lay down their lives for the next generation. That is why beyond a job, teaching is considered a calling.

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