Monday, March 29, 2010

Uncommon Sense

When I was much younger and more impatient with the world, I had difficulties dealing with people who did 'stupid things'.  Such as :

- not releasing an important report because it was incomplete (what was incomplete was a minor detail, such as page numbers). As a result, the report missed its deadline.

- not answering a question, even though he knew the answer because 'it wasn't his job'.

- teachers inconveniencing students about attendance at certain school activities because they cannot make sensible judgments of their own.  E.g. A school I won't mention set a date for all students to come and update their clubs and societies' files and reports.  So a student who had already completed his work asked to be excused from that particular activity.  The teacher demanded that he attend school that day as 'arahan sudah keluar' (instructions have been issued).  So the student asked what was he to do since he had already finished his work.  The teacher told him to just sit in the room.  Does this sound sensible???

Once I complained long and loud to my dad (one of my mentors in life), he just smiled and said,"It's because they lack uncommon sense."  That silenced me.

But WHY is common sense so uncommon? Why can't people just use their heads?  Sometimes some people are so wrapped up in doing things within their own little boundaries that they refuse to be bothered with other things.

I'm older now and more patient (at least I like to think so) but dealing with instances such as people with no common sense is still FRUSTRATING...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lighting The Fire In Students

A junior teacher once asked me... what should she focus on in school? She was finding the multitasking a bit wearing and she was losing focus. She found herself deep in typing worksheets, analyzing numbers, preparing powerpoints and she instinctively felt that she was going the wrong way.

She was lucky because she asked a senior teacher. I didn't ask... and I only figured out the answer for myself after about four years of teaching. To give you an idea of how busy I was, just picture a cat running around after its tail...LOL...

Anyway, this is what I told her :

A teacher's most important duty is to make the student hunger and thirst for knowledge badly enough that they will take charge of their own learning.

Not to finish the syllabus or textbook chapters
Not to prepare and grade test papers...
Not to sit in class and make sure everyone is doing something.
And most definitely NOT to condemn a child for his disinterest in his books.


I have a secret to share : when a colleague complains about students who are bored in class, the first thing that comes to my mind is... perhaps the class they are enduring is boring.

Sounds terrible of me, right? And YES I will be the first to admit that I HAVE been responsible for some pretty boring lessons.

However, I live for those moments when a student's eyes suddenly brightens and this look of awareness dawns on his features. Suddenly he begins to have an idea just what it is he is supposed to be doing in his classroom. Suddenly he begins to think of working towards something he wants...

So much better for the kids than simply trudging to class and going through the motions of doing work and reading books, don't you think?

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Teacher's Heartbreak

What breaks my heart every time it happens is watching a student fail to continue his or her studies because of financial barriers.

I have lost count of the times I have personally witnessed a student do well in exams but cannot continue because of money problems. 

C was one of the top three students in a previous STPM exam.  She could've easily got a place in university but for reasons known only to her, she chose to help her family in their shop. 

Q was in the top TWO in his school in an SPM exam.... but family pressures and financial obligations steered him away from a confirmed place in matriculation.  Now I do not know where he is.

J was the TOP student in a school.... but because his father didn't live up to his responsibility as a parent, J dropped out of school.

I cry inside when I see these things happening for I know education is their best route to a brighter future.  I feel so so SO frustrated because if it is not their own family that 'drags' them down, it is they themselves who make the choice.  One student even switched off his handphone so his teachers could not talk to him and persuade him to just go for the course.  Yes, money is needed but it can be sourced.  There are ways and means.... but the adults cannot help if the student refuses to be helped.

Sometimes I wish I can just grab the student and 'force' him or her to go.  But of course, I cannot do that.   I guess I can only pray for these young people that somehow somewhere they get to achieve their dreams.  They will probably have to go through experiences that will test their heart, soul and willpower.  But I really really pray that they also meet angels in our world who will help.

And the irony is... there are hundreds more young people who never worry about their next meal or their next place to sleep but who don't really care about their education.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Finding Love And Acceptance Part III

Finding Love and Acceptance

Finding Love and Acceptance Part II

Continuing my reflections on how people seek love and acceptance, it is inevitable to talk about what happens when love is rejected.

Authors and playwrights like to write about unrequited love because there are so many variations and so much more drama. Besides, such tales sell better than ones where the hero and the heroine meet, fall in love and get married. Yawn.

For those who have felt the pain of unrequited love, they know that it is a pain like no other. Imagine feeling strong emotions for someone and that someone doesn't even know you exist. Or perhaps does realise you are alive but isn't interested to know more.

It is no wonder that some are driven to send endless smses and make endless calls to the object of their affection. They know that they are probably driving the other person away but they feel frightened of not being able to win the other person's affection, either through inaction or by being too late. They cannot stand the thought of 'losing' the other. But, of course, how can you lose what you have never had?

A friend once asked me what to do. She was the one being bombarded by unwanted attention. I told her to just tell the other person how she felt. However she preferred to play the avoidance game as she said that replying smses would only lead to more drama and unending debates. Unfortunately, she is probably right.

I always feel sorry for the ones who are suffering from unrequited love. They are bound by their feelings and are feeling pain. But how do they escape the feelings? Some are lucky... the feelings fade with time. But some are not ... and years later, still remain 'in love' with the other person who has moved on with his or her life. And so, they live a life of emptiness, unwilling to settle for less than the one they want. Some people think this is romantic in some dark tragic way but I think it's lonely.

Well, I do know of others who have learned to put their feelings away in some hidden part of their hearts and are happily married with children.

Some may think that settling for one when you want another is a stupid thing to do. But what do you do when the one you want doesn't want you? I think putting your life into stasis is more stupid than finding love and acceptance with another.

Well, that's what I think, anyway.

I think if you can survive the pain of unrequited love, you will emerge a stronger and more resilient person.

The song 'Lover of Mine' by Alannah Myles... more memories than I care to recall.