Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Many people expound as one of the great perks of teaching is the satisfaction you get when your students succeed. It's akin to getting pat on the back and being told "hey, that's a job well done."

But I've realised that it can also be one of the great downers.

With the US and UK fall terms about to start, students are coming back to say goodbye before they embark on their great adventures. So far, there's been a girl who's off to Vassar, a guy off to Purdue and some off to Cambridge. And we've got one who's in Brown and often drops by to visit when he's on vacation.

On the one hand, it's great that they've done well and they deserve these big adventures they're going off on. But on the other hand, when they say with great certainty "I'll come back and visit next year", you begin to wonder why they don't expect you to move on. Why they expect you to stay around when they move on to better things. Batches come and batches go but the teachers stay the same. There are teachers here who have taught here since the inception of the school. And it begs the question, why?

I see great danger in being in the same place while your young 'uns spread their wings and take flight. Especially when they are able to do it because of you. You become the half way house, somewhere they stop for a while before going on. And the point is that they go on, and you're left tending to the half way house all your life. Isn't there the danger of becoming resentful?

As it is, when they come and say their goodbyes and you see their faces flushed with excitement, you wish you were going too. You wish you were the one embarking on that wild roller coaster ride. But you're not. You're stuck preparing them, so that they can be ready for that wild ride.

I've not been in it long enough to resent anyone for their successes. But even in these short years that I've been teaching, I've met a girl who is a President's Scholar, one with 10 distinctions, a boy who's been offered the most prestigious of scholarships to Cambridge. A boy whom we thought was the last person on earth to actually want to be tied to the government by the strings of the scholarship but did so anyway because in his words "they made it too damn attractive". And they will go on to really be our future leaders, while we, the ones who helped them get there, will always remain teachers.

I see teachers around me, deal with this envy in different ways. Some become bitchy, some make snide comments, some send them on their way and whine about how they wish they had such opportunities and some pretend it's no big deal. It's true what they say. It is a noble profession but how many truly are?

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 13:06

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At 8:40 pm Blogger sarahsiah said...

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