Friday, 29 January 2016

A teaching crisis :(

27-Jan 10pm

Right at the dot of when it happens, you think twice sometimes even more than just two. You think if you should battle it head front not knowing its potential risk that may turn otherwise or you just surrender and move on to where you can exploit more of your skills and talents. It comes to us at some point in life where we face this dilemma, of whether we should continue down this road. Should we just take it on as it comes withstanding all of its currents? Should we believe in ourselves to do more than what we have been given? Should we strive harder trying to prove what we initially taught was impossible – try to defy gravity?

Yes, in the midst of a crisis we often think of all the options we have and how it will turn out to be. We decide or should I say pre-assume an outcome that may or may not even work in our favour. And in such circumstances, we often go with the one less treacherous with a more supposedly positive outcome.

Sometimes when we are at a junction, unable to decide the road to take, we think of many things – mostly clouded by dark energies. Should we just retreat, taking a road more familiar with a, I repeat, pre-assumed positive outcome? Should we just clarify issues rather than taking it all head on?  Should we just try to succumb to whatever that comes without showing enthusiasm and ignoring anything that comes along with it? And is that due to having no other options? Or have we lost all hope leaving nothing but despair?

Yes, this is a crisis. And in my state, it is a teaching crisis.

Having to teach both major languages, the Malay and English language in a National-Type School can be a challenge. Moreover when you are given classes whose pupils (which I have decided to re-use this term, rather than students) know almost nothing, let alone reading it, you just have to start from point zero. And even so, what if, what if that point zero itself requires a great amount of work and determination that you feel you can’t see the future or even predicting it, based on how much is at stake. These pupils are really weak. And they really don’t get a word you say. They stare at you blankly when you ask, “Sudah habis?” They look at you waiting for some sort of Godly-wisdom shining. And when you simply are given such a situation, yes you think twice about this profession or the direction that you are headed to. I have no qualms about them being weak or not being able to even say “Selamat pagi” on their own. I have no grudges or irritation towards their levels. No, I do not feel so. In fact, I want to help them out.

But the problem comes when you are facing a wall right at your nose. A thick concrete wall that separates you from your lessons to your pupils; the medium of instruction. You see in many schools, most subjects are taught in their major mother tongue based on the type of school. And so here, Mandarin is used to teach. A lot of translation, explanation and clarification are made through Mandarin. And while that helps the pupils a lot, some even find it difficult because Mandarin is another language by itself. The people here speak Teochew, a dialect in the Chinese language. And so, learning Mandarin itself is difficult. What more of using a second language to teach a subject in the third party position? It is like using Japanese to teach English to a bunch of Indonesians. LOL!

This saddened me a lot. I had no idea how to teach. I don’t even know how to speak Mandarin, let alone dialects. I felt so down and had no options on how to go about teaching them. I felt useless. And for the past five and a half years, I felt it was nothing. I really was lost and did not know what to do.

But then, do we want to always run back to where we came from and start anew? Do we want to take the road that leads to a more satisfying situation, leaving all this behind? Do we really want to give up?

Think before you answer.

Because if you said no, then the road will only get harder. And then, there is no certainty that you will turn out victorious. You might even fall deeper for over-doing things out of your capacity. Will you find satisfaction? Or shall you seek the depth of grave? Will you find justice or shall you succumb to whatever fate decides?

But then if you said yes, what is next? A new school? A new place? A new environment? And what if you face something else there? Do you live the rest of your life running away every time a boulder is placed ahead of you? Will you ever find solace? Will you ever find peace? Will you ever seek your purpose?

Not knowing of what to do, I only embraced what was ahead of me. I decided to take on the challenge. Learning small words - words that you use frequently in class. “Copy”, “Pencil”, “Understand”, “Sit” etc.

And in the process of that, I found a way. I related better to the pupils. They seem to understand a little bit more than before. They enjoyed the class or rather sailed through with me. Because what I did most of the time is stopping midway, running to the next class, asking for a translation of a word, coming back and jotting it down on a self-
made dictionary.

And you know something, it is working. I may not lead them to getting an A or even excelling the subject, but to know that they return home knowing a word in Malay or English becomes all the more gratifying. It is a gift that only us teachers are granted with.

To be able to instill something in a child that soon becomes his way of life.

I thank God for allowing me this opportunity. I thank myself for not wanting to run away. Above all, I thank my pupils for trying so hard coping with me who learns to translate word to word while teaching them.

Sometimes, a crisis is not when you decide on a decision. It is merely a distraction to where you are supposed to head. A mirage.

Therefore, the next time, you come to a junction, think. Do think. But let it not overtake your true intentions. Let is not master your actions.

Good night. Adios.


  1. My soul was having a good journey with you there :) I miss you and your brain, suresh 😂

    1. hahaha! oh dear! :D missed you and golek-ness! haha

    2. hahaha! oh dear! :D missed you and golek-ness! haha