Thursday, May 06, 2004

Kudos to 'teachers of the future'
IT WAS heartening to read Ms Teo Juin Ee's letter, 'Joy of teaching - with dignity' (ST, May 1). She painted an encouraging picture of the qualities parents wished for in a teacher.

I agree with Ms Teo that the teacher who is 'motivated and high-spirited' can truly contribute to educating our children and play a part in moulding them.

As a parent of two teenagers, I am proud to share my encounters with two such teachers. Mr John Lee, a former teacher of my elder son, provided not only classroom instruction but also played a significant part in moulding him during his years in the school.

My second son's Secondary 2 form teacher last year was very patient and encouraging towards her students. I wonder if the Ms Teo who taught him is Ms Teo Juin Ee.

These are the teachers of the future, the ones with a 'heart' to teach children who are, in Ms Teo's words, faced with an 'external landscape fraught with sickening influences'. They understand why children behave in a certain way and do not see their job as done once the syllabus has been completed.

Children are able to discern between a caring teacher and one who just wants to do his/her job.

I would like to thank Ms Teo for sharing her positive experience as a teacher. She reminds parents that there are still very dedicated teachers around, though they are in the minority nowadays.



Not only am I ill from the flu, I'm ill from this- actually I am indignant.

Especially by that last line-" She reminds parents that there are still very dedicated teachers around, though they are in the minority nowadays.".

Dedicated teachers are the minority? What kind of deranged world does she live in? I think, if anything, most teachers are dedicated, to the bone. Why else would we put up with administrative crap, students who shoot their mouths off without thinking, down right unreasonable senior administration? The only reason, dedication- a belief in what we do.

Perhaps, many of us don't show it, in the self-sacrificing way that MS TEO shows it, but nevertheless, we're there, trying everyday. Like both Dan and JNet have said, the expectations that parents and society has on teachers are just ludicrous.

While I get and also firmly believe that a teacher's job extends beyond the classroom, we are not the childminders, the administrators, the psychologists, the disciplinarians, the punching bags for the students. Least of all, we are not the children's keepers. And that is what this Mdm Wong lady expects of us.

Dedication does not mean we have our entire lives revolved around the students. Dedication means we believe in what we are doing and we don't give up despite the mountains of crap we get put through. Dedication means we care for our students. But I draw the line when it requires me to be at the students' beck and call 24-7 and I draw the line when I have my personal space intruded upon and I really draw the line when it is expected of me to counsel recalcitrant students till I'm blue in the face when they don't want to listen in the first place.

We all need time and space away from it to recharge. Just because we don't spent 15 hours in school and have no lives outside school, it doesn't mean we are not dedicated. It just means that we know when to give and when to pull back so that we can give some more.

I suspect alot of parents out there, want us to be the pseudo parents of their kids so that they do not need to feel guilty when they fail at their own responsibilities. One of my students wrote in an essay about parental responsibility that "parents prefer to send their children to school instead of keeping them at home because it allows the parents to go out". The ironic thing is that while his sentence made no grammatical or semantical sense within the context of his essay and his facts were somewhat skewed, his sentiments ring true here. Many parents are happy for the school to take over what should be their responsibilities- child is rude, let the school wash his mouth out with soap, child is hanging out with bad company, let the school discipline him and send him to detention, child is failing, let the school do something about pulling up his grades.

And then, when the school lays a hand on the child, the parent comes running with accusations of "how dare you touch my child? You can cane someone else's. Just not mine!". Personally, I don't think dedication is about dealing with someone else's crap just because they don't want to and getting crap for it.

If I ever become a parent like her, please please please break my legs.

Ondine tossed this thought in at 12:36

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