Thursday, August 30, 2007

Lament on leaving teaching

I whine. I whine. I sit in front of the computer, staring at the large expanse of LCD screen. Symphony 92.4 FM is playing in the background. There is some foreigner singing in some foreign language. It is 1.46pm. I am alone. At home. At my desk.

The operatic singing overwhelms me although I can’t understand what he means. It sounds so sad. It sounds so despairing. Like he had just lost his only true love. Or was questioning the very meaning of his existence. Over and over again he bellows in that powerful voice of his. And the song ends.

How many times have I heard such beautiful singing, and tried in vain to follow the words in my mind, knowing my vocal range is sorely lacking. Or followed the vibrations of the violin as the player’s bow glides across the strings, pretending as though I was making the harmonious melody. Or mimicked the fingers of the distinguished pianist, honed from days and years of dedication at the ebony and ivory perfecting the masterpieces of old.

I always wished I was somewhere else. I always wished I was someone else. I always wished I was something else.

I ask myself, what is a job? What is work? Why do I hate it so much? Am I lazy? Or have I just not found a job that mostly suits my interests and skill sets? Is there such a thing, even? Or is it a matter of the resignation of the idealism that foolish youth carries on into adulthood long after the physical starts to degenerate?

I look around. Many others are diligently at their allocated jobs. Their designated responsibilities. They may not love their jobs, but they are responsible people. Yes indeed, so God had ordained work that one would make a living with his own hands, not being a burden unto others. The command of God is terrible. And more so if disobeyed. But-

No ‘buts’, not especially when God’s command is concerned. Then am I defiant and lazy, risking the wrath of God? Or is this merely a transition?

My socialization kicks in. I look like a quitter. But - which is worse? To come to work unwillingly, unhappily and tired due to lack of sleep every day, or to admit that this is a lost cause and leave?

Who am I defying when I quit? God? Or my socialization?

Some say it’s all in the mind. I must convince myself that I can do it. Then I will do it. That it’s not as bad as I picture it to be. Mind over matter. Don’t pay attention to the fact that almost nothing gets accomplished at the end of an hour of yelling. Don’t admit to the fact that after so long all they’ve improved are their copying skills. Don’t pay attention to the fact that they are in such dire straits but still lack the basic discipline to listen. Just do your part in appearing there. And nevermind that 40 pupils is too big a class size for energetic children with very short attention spans.

Just go through the motion.

For my own interest’s sake? For the pay? That's not for me.

Or maybe I’m doing something wrongly? Give them more colouring assignments? More hands-on work? More fill-in-the-blanks and other stuff to copy? Keeps them occupied. But then I ask myself - is learning actually taking place?

Perhaps I was deluding myself all the long. Do I hate kids? But no, I don’t hate kids. I just feel so unequipped to do anything to help their situation while I have to see them in such circumstances like a classroom. And I can’t bare to go through the motion.

See them after class, remedial, extra lessons? Counselling? Did that and I must say it’s much more effective. Then why meet in the classroom in the first place? 200 students. 150 in need of individual attention. Something larger is not right.

Then you tell me that this is quite normal. Now my mind is completely made up. Sorry, but no way am I going to accept this as normal and I won’t be a part of this degenerative self-denial. I have pity for my students and the others who go through this and wake up too late.

But anyway, who ever said education was to be a societal equalizer? Who perpetuated that myth? That false lie? That bright, shining lie which keeps things the way they are, leaving the existing power structures intact.

Then God gently beckons. Has He not ordained the lives of all mankind? From the elite to the humble? And given them gifts and circumstances as He sees fit?

Where then, will we see the end of the poverty, of misery, of depravity, of inequality, of broken homes, ruined lives, of souls depraved and lacking in joy and purpose?
That which we long for, we must wait and find in Heaven.

So it is with a heavy heart, and begging much forgiveness, that I need to say I’m leaving after just a short month. Education is only a means to an end. And the ultimate end isn’t about head knowledge.

Take care. And God bless.

1 comment:

whitestripes said...

OMG... Foo, u quit already?

I applied and went for the interview at MOE. Unsuccessful though.


Teh