To my part-time PGDP students:
Last night I learnt that you folks would be having a hotpot gathering tonight. Although I’m not able to join you, I think it’s a splendid idea of yours to organise the get-together.
I have a bit of experience in working with teachers on part-time programmes. Many years ago when teaching was less stressful, they were more active in getting know to know each other. For them, the part-time courses were an opportunity to make some new friends, and often they took the initiative to strengthen the ties with each other. But with teaching becoming more and more stressful, it is a very different scenario today.
The scenario today is that many of them won’t turn up for class until the last minute before class, and will dash off the first minute the lecturer dismisses them. With tons of things to worry about, they usually have no mood for socialising, not to mention making friends with each other. Often, they are not even interested in learning other people’s names. At the end of a thirteen-week course, they are often amazed that I am the one who knows the most names of people in the group (and I’m amazed that they know so few). Under the circumstances, that anyone will take the initiative to organise an out-of-class activity is unimaginable.
I am certainly not blaming them for the apathy. After all, they are already making painstaking effort to come to class on time after a long day’s work, and will still have a big backlog of urgent things to clear when they get home after class.
Therefore, although I can’t join you for the gathering tonight, I’m still very much encouraged that you have put together the activity. This fellowship will give you further strength and energy to complete the remainder of your studies.
I’m also amused that some of you have been organising different dress-special days for our Thursday evenings. Teaching is a tough job, and you could use some little fun things to spice up your life a little. And like the hotpot gathering, these little things will add to your solidarity and cohesion, which will make your life as a fulltime teacher and a part-time student more livable.
I still remember what you were like last September when you met each other for the first time. At that time, there was this possibility that you would later end up as many of the part-time groups I have had—indifference towards each other. As time went by, I noticed that you were chatting each other up more and more often, and more and more happily. And now the hotpot dinner gathering. Keep this up. I’m so proud of you.