Those were the days.
I had a rather zig-zag career path. After teaching at my first school for some years, I applied to EDB (then Education Dept) and became an inspector for Primary English. A year later, I realised that the job nature, which was mainly about desk work and school inspections, was not my cup of tea. I applied for transfer to a college of education, and started what would later become a long journey in teacher education. But a few years later, I was re-posted to another section, and as a civil servant, I couldn’t say no. This section had nothing to do with English language education. I could simply go through the motions, and in those colonial days, I would still be able to keep my job, and might even get a promotion when I had accumulated enough seniority. Then, 25 years later, I would get pension. But my heart was with English language education. I made a bold decision, resigned from the government, and went back to secondary school teaching. In the few years that ensued, one dramatic thing led to another, and I ended up teaching at 3 different schools! In 1991, I joined the CUHK Faculty of Education, and resumed what I had left behind a few years before.
The picture below was taken at my third teaching school. I was the form teacher and English teacher of this F6 Arts class. Two days ago, I had a reunion dinner with some of them.
Hence, all together, I had taught at 2 co-educational schools, a boys’ school, and a girls’ school. If someone was to ask me how I would compare life at the various types of schools, I would say that, in terms of classroom teaching, teaching at a girls’ school is highly rewarding because girls are generally more interested in English. In terms of school life as a whole, teaching at a co-ed school is much more fun. If you teach English at a boys’ school, you have to compete with the Maths teacher and the Physics teacher and the Chemistry teacher for the students’ attention all the time.
Now that you know I’d been on the frontline for many years, maybe you’ll understand why my heart is always with teachers.
(To learn more about my stories and those of other passionate educators, read Voices from the Frontline: Narratives of Nonnative English Speaking Teachers, by Icy Lee and Paul Sze, 2015, Chinese University Press.)