Becoming good people


Our columnist is both surprised and humbled at the attitude and changes she sees in a former student, during a chance meeting.

THEY say it’s some kind of ‘school teacher instinct’ that has evolved through the many years of responding to sentences beginning with “Teacher”.

Whatever the reason, if you are a Malaysian school teacher, the minute you hear someone call out ‘teacher’ when you are in a public place, you instinctively turn around thinking they meant you, even if you are in a group of another 100 teachers.

So, when I was browsing through the food shelf in a local store, and I heard someone call “Teacher” from another aisle, I immediately turned around expecting to see a student in uniform.

When I saw the cheerful, round face with the familiar lopsided grin revealing the gap between his front teeth, I hastily tried to recall who among my former students he was. And then I remembered that it was Dev from 5G who had left school a few years ago.

He had lost some weight and was dressed smartly in a long sleeved shirt and trousers.

I had been Dev’s class teacher that year and remembered that he had failed in almost every subject.

But then, so had most of his classmates, and quite frankly this was a class of students the school wasn’t exactly counting on to help increase the overall percentage passes for the public exams.

These were students who somehow through flaws or strengths in the system, depending on which way you viewed it, had managed to make it to Form Five although for the most part, their academic aptitudes seemed to reflect the level of students who were in much lower grades.

Challenging class

At best, teachers who taught that class could only describe it as being “very, very challenging”.


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