Why would anyone want to become a teacher today? The workload is backbreaking; the enthusiasm to teach could be dampened by hundreds of chores unrelated to teaching; parents could be critical and unsupportive; the distorted ecology of education could turn teachers into drill sergeants for exam after exam … And I haven’t even mentioned (a) the fact that there are many other career options available to graduates today, and (b) the perception that teaching is far less glamorous than most other jobs in a metropolitan city.
Not long ago, two recent former students spoke of their motive for becoming a teacher. Both are what we call the ‘post-eighties’. And although as one of the conservative, middle-aged, men, I have my share of dissatisfactions with the post-eighties, their affirmation led me to take my hat off to them.
Jenny, who has just started teaching, asserts:
Though I am tired, I love my job . I would rather spend 200% time and effort to help students learn instead of giving 100% time to help someone earn money.
Carrie, who had worked as a designer shaping up gigantic shopping malls for huge developers, narrates:
I would take the bus when I went to work. Sitting on the upper deck of a bus every morning, I could see hundreds of common folks doing ordinary things: students waiting for the bus, workmen reading the newspaper, and old women sorting out the garbage for anything they could sell for a cent. And little by little, I asked myself: Why should I be working for the big estate developers? I should be serving the people!
Jenny and Carrie have one thing in common. They want to be working for ordinary people, rather than helping the rich get richer.
This reminds me that amidst my dissatisfactions with the young people of today (being fully aware that those in my parents’ generation would have much to complain about me and my contemporaries as well), they possess certain qualities that deserve our appreciation. And against the prevailing materialistic values of our society, it is a very precious thing that there are still young people who go into teaching because of a strong sense of vocation.
(See also my blogpost of 26 April, 2011: https://paulsze.wordpress.com/2011/04/28/and-then-you-were-there/)