“I believe it’s not that youth are not touched by their teachers – they are looking and listening and will realise this in hindsight. But it is the way of young people to be wrapped up in themselves, oblivious to others, most of all the adults close to them” (The Key To Teachers’ Happiness, Miss Serene Luo).
The YouthInk commentary “The Key To Teachers’ Happiness” (August 27, 2011) by Miss Serene Luo: amidst the controversy involving individuals thinking of returning from retirement and their salaries, the observation that teaching is a fulfilling – albeit demanding and challenging – career is spot-on. With Teachers’ Day around the corner, it is worth contemplating what continues to motivate and inspire education veterans year after year; at the same time, with the rapid expansion of the teaching profession and increasingly demanding all-round expectations, it is imperative for students and parents to come on board to accord the educators with the support and respect they duly deserve.
Inspiring Teachers: What Students Can Do
It takes tremendous resolve and passion for someone to take upon teaching as a long-term career: compared to their graduating counterparts who assume positions in public service, finance et cetera, the pay is considerably lower; more significantly, beyond the management of lessons per se, they are expected to take upon more portfolios in various co-curricular activities within and outside the school. Results may be disproportionate to the effort put in, but those in it for the long haul recognise the value in grooming young people – academically and even beyond the classroom – moulding them into talents.
The proposition that “it is not cool among one’s peers to admire a teacher” is not entirely correct; instead, it would be more accurate to assert that youths and students – as their networks grow at the moment – find it more demanding to remain in contact with the plethora of teachers who had taught and nurtured them. Based on the aforementioned motivations; while educators are appreciative of the gifts and love showered upon them by present students, the former would be more stoked to have their past students return to their alma maters, sharing about their experiences and career explorations.
Parents Can Do Their Part Too
With the growth of the Internet and the proliferation of social media platforms, it has made the re-establishment of past relationships or connections more convenient. The growing popularity of school alumni groups – physically and virtually – has provided Singaporeans with more platforms to show their gratitude; these recognitions, on a personal basis, go a long way to reaffirm their teacher’s commitments and dedications.
Parents too can play a crucial role in value-adding the teaching-learning experience for teachers. Teaching at its very core revolves around the imparting of knowledge and information; and in Singapore, where standardised examinations and rote memorisation are the orders of the day, educators struggle to interact with their students creatively in their other pursuits or character development. Parents, especially during parent-teacher meetings or gatherings, must not premise their expectations solely upon academic results – already, educators have to employ new pedagogies to counter the repetitive syllabuses – and look to become more holistically aware. The school and its teachers do not solely function as a pedantic manufacturing system; they too need to be meaningfully empowered to sustain interest and heighten enthusiasm levels.
As the traditional Chinese saying aptly encapsulates, “一日为师，终身为父” (one’s teacher is one’s father for a lifetime); if students and parents become more responsive and engaged, and societal respect for the teaching profession does not dwindle, the foundation of our education system will remain sturdy for years to come.