Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The long term joys of teaching

Let me start with this - at the beginning, teaching is a thankless job. These are the two biggest barriers in my opinion:

1. It's tiring - before the lecture, as you have to plan what to say; during the lecture, for obvious reasons; and after the lecture, for I chose to walk back home :)
I taught Math during Saturdays at my high school - the school wanted its students to know more Math beyond what's taught in the curriculum, so they invited me to teach a few of their current students. I also taught summer Math classes in my nursery school. At that time, I was still a University student. Because I was a student for five days of the week and a campus journalist for seven days of the week, teaching during the weekends becomes exceptionally more tiring.

2. Is it really worth it? - In many university classes, some students would always quip, "am I really going to use <> when I graduate?" Some students do not appreciate the things that are being taught to them. Now imagine when you teach in what others would say optional classes. How less appreciated would you be? 
I told my students that in the academic arena, the primary object of learning is to learn how to learn, because school can't teach you all that you need to know in life. But it can equip you with the right framework and discipline for learning, for adapting, for succeeding. Even with that, I've had some (young) students give a blank stare from the beginning till the end of class, and these would hurt me. Some though would believe me, and that consoles me.

At least to me, the joy of teaching becomes imminent once you realize that you've changed someone's life, or you've imparted something that they still remember after a long time. Those have happened to me!

1. Changing someone's life - In my summer Math class, I had a young high school student. He said because he was struggling in Math, it being his worst subject in school, his mom enrolled him for summer. So we went through the summer, and he was one of the energetic students in class. He even came to my house a few times to say hi, play games, or ask questions.
The good part: One year later, he told me that Math is now his best subject! He even asked if I was teaching the next summer. Unfortunately, I couldn't make the next summer...
This memorable experience could not have happened without the help of Paul Garilao and my brother. They helped make this summer class possible by substituting for me in quite a number of classes. (I was doing my thesis, and working as the editor in chief of the university paper at this time.)

2. Imparting something - Continuing what I said to my students about school, since school is primarily about learning to learn, what is more important to achieve then is excellence and well-roundedness.
The good part: 5 years later, someone told me that she remembered this point I said. :)

img thanks to http://philspector.wordpress.com
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