Thursday, April 21, 2005

Teacher, Teacher I am Sick. Get the Doctor Very Quick

I miss last semester. I miss the best batch of students I've ever had ever (so far). It rained A's last sem. And I am not known to give them out so easily. They were just the right combination of smarts and charm. They were funny, interested and engaged. Meeting them twice a week was enough to offset the four times I have with a group of kids in Taft who are less...talented. I miss them even more so now because the present crop of summer students pale in comparison. I can't say they're slow or dim-witted. Most of them are just plain disinterested. And without interest, why bother trying right?

Which gets me back to the Taft kids, most of whom were more than happy to welcome the free teacher they had in me. Free because they didn't have to pay for the extra units they took in my classes. Although the foreign institution pays me quite well to give these kids free lessons, and much as my conscience is nagging me against the decision, I will not be coming back next semester. My conscience is telling me, "These kids need you even more than those rich kids in QC." They need me because I know what I'm capable of as an educator. They need me because I've seen the poor academic standards in their school. They need me because I show up when the profs they paid for don't.

But I won't be back because it is too tiring. And depressing. It reminds me of the big, bad and ultimately unfair world where not everyone is created equal. And indeed, we aren't. Some seem born with just enough amount of capabilities and talents to stand out and excel. And when they aren't, are lucky enough to be born in a family able to provide for extra "support." What about the more unfortunate ones? Well, they seem doomed to mediocrity or worse.

The Taft kids are noticeably less able. The reasons why are probably a combination of the misfortunes of nature and the lack of nurture. Economic reasons are also in the mix. I've had students who skipped classes because they had to work. I've had students who couldn't come to class anymore due to financial reasons. Some couldn't afford books or photocopies of books. In a society that puts a premium in a particular kind of intelligence, one whose key is first and foremost dictated by mastery of the English language, how could these kids excel? When they were sometimes too tired to come to class, when they couldn't match the words they read in English textbooks with clear and coherent concepts, when they couldn't afford these books in the first place?

The kids in QC are generally more able by any standards. Perhaps because they have been well-fed and cared for most their lives. Most belong to prominent families. They have the world laid at their feet and in the past two years it always breaks my heart when I see so many succumb to complacency and laziness. There's no doubt about it, some day these kids will lead. And if the time they're supposed to grow back bone is rather spent obsessing about sports, gimmicks, the latest fads and gambling, what will become of the rest who are supposed to be led?

It is frustrating to be a teacher. On my puplit I am supposed to rail against the injustices of the world. On my pulpit I am supposed to inspire change. But Life has been teaching me valuable lessons these past few years. And I am not sure I like being taught reality.

No comments: