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Monday, September 1, 2008

Teachers

This is going to be a long post - going back 30+ years.

Teacher – probably the most important person in the world. Yes more important than politicians and parents. How many times have we parents repeat instructions to the kids… “don’t do this, don’t do that” and yet they don’t listen and than one day, they come back from school and pronounced that teacher said this or that blah blah blah and followed it to a t. Of course, this applies mainly to the younger children but the words that a teacher used – say it right and it boost a child no end, say it wrong and it would possibly scar a child forever.

This is my bit on teachers, good and bad that have molded me into what I am today, for good or for bad.

Way back in primary school, there was Miss Jamilah. I think she was a relief teacher cos she taught us only for a short while but she was such a nice teacher. I think we were in Pri 5 than and she invited us to her house during Hari Raya. Actually that’s all I can remember about her – that she was nice. Another nice teacher was also another relief teacher – Ms Irene Tan. In Pri 6, she brought one whole bunch of us out for a movie – her treat; Snow White at the Odeon. It was my first movie ever! And she was so encouraging and always praising us! The only other teacher I can remember from Pri school was Mrs Ho, form teacher and math teacher. She had this perpetual look on her face that says us kids are a nuisance and wasting her time. That was the message I got from her too when she hauled me up for failing my math over and over again. You know, if looks could kill, I could have died a thousand deaths then!

The trend of evil math teacher continued into secondary school with Ms June Yong. She will rattle off “A+B+C+…. Get it?” and when we shake our head, she will go “You stupid people”. But her teaching was really atrocious and with my weak foundation in Pri school, I naturally flunked the subjects throughout my four years. My classmates were more fortunate. A few of them teamed up to get a tutor (something unheard of in those days) and managed to clear their math. Another memorable teacher was Mr Ngian who loves to pinch us and pull our ears whenever we do something wrong or get the answer wrong! Those were the days when teachers were allowed to punish children! But he was a good teacher and under him, almost all of us passed the LCCI examination in Accounts (an exam meant for working adults) at Sec 3! Then there was the Chinese language teacher (in those days, we don’t call them mother tongue”) who will make us read passage after passage and than go ‘懂 不懂! Of course, that became her nickname but sadly for me, I really 不懂 and flunked all my Chinese exam including the ‘O’s The worst character of all was the new principal who came when I was in Sec 4. I had the distinct honor of being the 1st student in the whole school to be ticked off by him on his first day at the school when he droved into the carpark! My crime? Wearing a pair of red colour Panther track shoe -which was actually allowed in school at that time!

Not all teachers in secondary school were bad. There was Babs Heng (yeah, she asked us to call her by name) who was probably the “bestest” teacher a student can have. But the most important thing that she did was to introduce one whole bunch of us to Christ! Her partner in crime (oops I mean Christ) was William Chai, now a lawyer. Together, these 2 teachers made secondary school the best time I ever had.

Moving on to JC, 2 teachers stood out. Miss Jebamoney, a teacher that everybody dislike cos she was so fierce but as our Civic tutor, she was a really really nice lady and counseled me when I was flunking all my papers in year 2 and never gave up on me even though I had changed for the worst and became almost incorrigible. Then there was Miss Loo. Again this was one fierce teacher but she had a soft side to her fierce demeanor and even though I was always the subject of her wrath, she also did not give up on me and took time to counsel me.

Anyway, to all these teachers, good or bad, still teaching or not and to all my teacher friends and relatives and all teachers out there, I hope you enjoy your day of rest and take thing easy. I know nowadays us parents don’t make things easy for you guys but keep pressing on. The kids will thank you for it one day!

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