Sunday, 18 May 2014

lesson learned

When you learn that it's more important to please God than men, everything just makes sense.

Two days ago, marked the National celebration of Teacher's Day. 16th May 2014 for me was a really low key affair, since it falls on a Friday, which is our weekend here in Kelantan. As expected, social media was buzzing with heart-warming dedications, pictures of gifts and events in the schools.... It was definitely a 'feel-good' day for teachers.

It brought me back to my first Teacher's Day here in Gua Musang, back in year 2011... which.. was unfortunately non-existent. Sad as it was, we didn't get to celebrate Teacher's Day but instead were assigned to use the funds and resources for our then-principal's farewell @_@

Then came 2012, and still... no Teacher's Day for me... We had a 'state-level' Teacher's Day held in our school instead where principals and Assistant principals from all the schools in Kelantan were celebrated while we had to do all the donkey work since our school was the host @_@

And finally in 2013, I had my first taste of Teacher's Day, which was organised by Nadia (as the president of KIB). But, both of us were the ones mainly handling most of the behind-the-scenes work... While it was a really successful event, it was also maybe a little disappointing to realise the lack of gifting culture among our students... We are humans after all. Though we do not expect our students to spoil us with gifts, but it still feels nice to be appreciated. In fact, it still saddens me that our students easily ask teachers to 'belanjo', to give them 'satu ya' and even proudly declare they find no shame in 'minta sedekah'.... It's a culture that shocked me fours years back, and still frustrates me till this day... :'(

They are always, I repeat, always, wanting to be at the receiving end. They have no concept of giving... and they want to be rewarded for basically everything.

Imagine, they demand for any form of reward just because they handed in their homework.
Yes, we are talking about homework. Something they should complete out of obligation and responsibility...
Worse still, when they demand for reward just for passing English with 'E'.

As much as I try to be positive in my classes, mentality of this sort from them breaks me. Sometimes I just could not comprehend how is it possible for them to be so shameless... One of my worst outburst happened when a student took my pen without my permission, and when I asked for it, that student yelled that since I am a teacher earning thousands I should not be so stingy with my stuff and that I should just go buy a new one!!!!!

Total disbelief.

I just could not bring my mind to comprehend that form of logic. Even when I was a student, I don't remember any friend of mine with such guts and lack of manners, especially when talking to teachers!!!!

So I started to develop favourites, and dreaded certain classes (2 to be exact). In fact it was apparent in the amount of effort I put in towards different lessons with different classes. Deep inside I knew I shouldn't be so, but it's easier to be nicer towards those who appreciates your effort than those who couldn't be bothered....

Then, I remembered what my dad always told me... "Please God, not men."

I took a really deep breath, stared at my messy table full of books and all sorts of resources, picked up a book called William's Dragons, a stack of plain papers, my 'Learning Tools Box' and walked into 'that' class.

It was still a rather rough battle. As usual these kids were late, some were playing truant, some decided to come in 20 minutes late, some sneaked out, one kept running out from the back door and back from the front door and repeating that stupid action, some belting out in songs, some throwing their bags from one end to another, one for no reason went around kicking people, some blantantly told me  they wanted to go out for a smoke, some screamed out of nowhere..... It doesn't matter how many times you scolded them, slammed the table, showed your displeasure... They can be just plain impossible. And they themselves will happily tell you that they are 'kureng' - mentally ill or retarded. I HAD NEVER, EVER, HAD SUCH A DIFFICULT CLASS OF STUDENTS BEFORE.

Still, with no idea how I managed it, I read them that book, and got 'some of them' to repeat after me, phrases to phrases. At the end of the book, they gave me a round of applause lol. I proceeded in giving them a piece of paper each, and told them that instead of William's dragons, they will draw their own dragon... Not surprisingly their first reaction was that they can't do it. Even with much coaxing, some of them refused to do the task and even wasted the paper I gave them... However, there were still some who told me they can't draw but will give it a try... I actually thanked them and gave them full use of my stationery... It was then I realised, they really can't draw.

They had difficulties drawing simple shapes, little to no confidence in whatever they are doing, especially when you have the ones who couldn't even try, going around mocking their drawings... I really could not stand that 'bullying' mentality! Very quickly, I went to their defense and sternly rebuked those naughty boys that they had NO RIGHT to criticise people when they themselves couldn't even produce their work. I made it clear that I never look down on those who are weak, but I have NO RESPECT for those who couldn't even try. Soon after, I saw them picking up a paper and started doodling... Though their drawings were rather ugly (probably worse than kindergarten kids), at least they were trying.

Come to think of it, I regretted for not taking any pictures of their drawings. I wanted to but they were too ashamed of their work for me to snap pictures of it.

Anyway, while they were busy drawing for their lives, I was just chatting with this boy who is often bullied in the class. I was shocked to learn that he lives in Kuala Betis and had to take a 2-hour ride to school every day, departing at 5am in order to arrive at school by 7, in a small, crowded school van. He is definitely one of the weakest in the class, could hardly copy correctly, and possibly very low IQ. But this boy, albeit being very shy at first, thanked me for reading them the story... He said he had never been read a story...

That was exactly what this job is all about.

It finally made sense.

I was stupid for dwelling on my own negativity to the extent that I had limited myself on what I could do for my students...

When my class ended, this very same boy helped me to rearrange my Learning Tool Box and carried the box for me to the staffroom, without me asking.

And on our way to the staffroom, I too found out that he had two stepmothers, five step siblings, and though he hates getting bullied in school, he finds it better to be here rather than staying at home. He even apologised to me for being stupid and so weak in English, but tells me he likes my class...

Though I know he would never come across my blog or even understand what I had written,
to that boy,
thanks for reminding me that I am a teacher,
thanks for being my student.

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