Got marsedit, thanks to applecow!
Today, 18 Jan 2008
THE HEART AND SOUL OF TEACHING
HO KONG LOON
IN 1983, my school head nominated me for the post of vice-principal.
But he was shocked when I turned it down, persuading me to reconsider my
decision because that rejection could adversely affect my career
He relented when he realised how resolute I was. I thoroughly enjoyed
doing what I loved most: Teach with passion, dedication and, compassion.
A decade or so later, the education landscape underwent great change with
improvements in salary scales, better and faster prospects for promotion,
attractive study bursaries, generous sabbaticals, annual performance-based
bonuses and so on.
Still, there were teachers who much preferred teaching to fast-tracking
their way up the pecking order to become heads of department, subject or
level heads or senior teachers.
The ranking of teachers set many teachers working feverishly to come up
with the best possible professional portfolios, one that their reporting
officers have an avid interest in.
Differentiation took on an added significance when ordinary teachers and
their hierarchical counterparts worked from different rooms.
Staff camaraderie nose-dived. Contact time, originally intended for busy
teachers to interact professionally or socially once a week, was
transformed into lengthy staff meetings, in the guise of sharing sessions,
mini meetings and briefings.
Walk into any school before assembly, during the breaks and after
dismissal, and it is not uncommon to see teachers working at a frenzied
pace – marking written assignments, keying in data at the computers,
responding to the voluminous work-related emails from colleagues or
superiors, keeping an eye on the kids at the canteen, supervising silent
reading … and the list goes on.
Gone were the days when teachers could take time off to relax with their
colleagues after school hours.
But I soldiered on. The children in the class were my main concern and if
my portfolio seemed embarrassingly slim, it did not unduly bother me.
When it was time for the battle-weary horse to move on, he did. I was an
anachronistic remnant from a bygone time. I was nurtured and trained to be
the front-liner in the education of the child, who held centrestage in the
It is the passion, creativity, love, care, concern and commitment, which
collectively make the learning process enjoyable, productive and
Now, it is rare for the teacher to have all that time with the kids.
Teachers today have an overflowing plate attending to issues well beyond
the classroom. There is only so much they can accomplish daily.
The better-qualified ones are not necessarily more committed, nor are
they, in comparison with their lesser-qualified colleagues more effective
Grow 2.0, while welcome and comprehensively packaged, aims at
institutionalising the culture of reward for diligence, upgrading,
multi-tasking and versatility.
A tsunami-scale mindset revolution, to get back to the basics of dynamic,
creative and dedicated classroom teaching, is hopefully attainable, too.
The author is a retired teacher.