A Teacher For Life

A Teacher For Life

Monday, 01 June 2015

Media Type
NIE News, June 2015, http://www.nie.edu.sg/nienews/jun15/?q=contents/a_teacher_for_life

By Madam Magdalein Goh, Concord Primary School


By the time I was in Secondary Three, I had already decided that there was only one job for me – to be a teacher. And so I did and I have never looked back! Fifty-two years on, I am still in the classroom. The source of inspiration unsurprisingly, was some of my teachers, not least of all – my Literature teacher, who was an eloquent, confident, knowledgeable, strict, yet delightfully funny lady. We clung on to her every word. The works of Shakespeare, for example, were a challenge, but taught by Mrs Wyatt, the lessons become a treat we looked forward to. The spin-offs were invaluable lessons in LIFE! We were not learning just to pass examinations!

Many a teacher does not even begin to realise the degree of influence she can exert on her charges – influences which can be massive and long-lasting. Our pupils watch, listen, learn from, and sometimes choose to follow in our footsteps! It is imperative therefore, that we are always mindful of our every word and action.

While it is true that the dawn of the technological age has brought with it changes to teaching pedagogies and methods, the purpose of education and the reason one chooses to teach NEVER changes! Content and methods can and probably will become redundant over time, but life’s important values that a teacher imparts ARE FOR LIFE!

I have to embrace each change as it comes, to the best of my ability. However, it should never overwhelm me to the extent that I choose to throw in the towel, that is, if I believe in and am passionate about what I do.

Job gratification in the Teaching Profession is mostly intangible and more often than not, takes a long time to come. A teacher cannot afford to be short-sighted. What she does should never be only about the here and now – but about the years, even decades ahead. I always get a lump in my throat when years after a pupil has left me, he says, “I remember you telling me…”

While remuneration is important, it will be a grave error if it tops the list of reasons one chooses to teach. Teachers touch lives, they really do. This is a privilege no teacher should take lightly. I would be lying if I said that on a few extremely trying days, I had not looked to the exit door. But then, I would be lying to myself that I would be happier sipping coffee at high tea sessions, hitting the malls and the like, knowing that I could be putting my time to better use in a classroom somewhere.

The day will come when my days in the classroom will end, but for now, that exit door will have to wait!

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This article first appeared in NIE's quarterly publication NIE News in June 2015.