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The teachers who touched my life

Teachers play a very important role in shaping the lives of the students that they taught. We remember the teacher long after they’ve taught us and think back of them with fond memory. Here are a few memorable teachers who left a memorable impression in me:

1. My Standard Six Malay language teacher

Until today, I can still remember how she looked like. She had always dyed her hair golden, in an era where it is not common for women to have their hairs dyed. She came into our standard 6 class and told us that she wanted all of us to do well in the Malay language. She went well beyond her call of duty- almost every day, she gave us extra homework- she will write down exercises on the Malay comprehension and grammar and use the school machine to photostat the worksheets. We are required to do it and the next day, she will make us swap the papers with our friends to have the paper marked.

She reminded us that it took her a lot of extra effort but she felt the textbook itself is not enough to have us achieve good results- she wanted tp equip us with sufficient knowledge to not only pass the exam but do so with flying colours. Her principle is ‘practice, practice and practice’.

And worked hard I did because I was very inspired by her- during the time when there was no teachers who encouraged me. I learned to love the Malay language and rose from the bottom in the barrel to earning straight As in the exam.

2. Chinese language teacher

When he taught us then, he was in his forties and I remembered he rode an old motorbike with an even older helmet. He was a full time teacher in a Chinese language school but was employed part time to teach the Chinese language when I was in Standard 5 every Saturday (Mandarin was introduced in the national schools as POL- people’s own language). He had this black thick rimmed spectacles that very much reminded me of my father.

One very unique quality about him was that he really cared for us to love the Mandarin language for its beauty. I was never particularly fond of learning Mandarin but only that particular year, I was really inspired. Aside from teaching the syllabus, he made Mandarin so interesting by teaching us to write the ancient and timeless Chinese poems and the meaning behind those poems. And you know what, he also encouraged us by rewarding us whenever he get our assignments done correctly. It’s nothing expensive- just a pencil eraser that cost about 10 cent or less then. He used to buy it by the boxes and if we had done well, we will be rewarded by an eraser. He bought it out of his own money and we all knew he was not rich because he only rode a very run down motorbike.

In total, I had received 2 erasers from him and till today, I still keep the 2 erasers. Each time I see them, I can’t help but smile at the memory of this teacher- who went well beyond his call of duty and who taught the Chinese language the way it was meant to be taught- to inspire us to learn with the promise that we will be able to comprehend the beautiful poetic language of scholars of an era long gone.

3. My form 6 Physics tuition teacher

I had a Physics tuition teacher- she has genuine love for physics. Her idol is Richard P. Feynman and her dream was to enter California Institute of Technology (Caltech). But because physics don’t exactly pay well in Malaysia or go down well with ambitious but poor parents, as an eldest child, she was forced to take up more popular courses- she finally settled for engineering. But because she loved Physics so much, she gave tuition- her schedules were almost one of a superhuman. She had a very demanding day job as an engineer- and she taught Physics tuition always every evening with back to back classes that goes past midnight. Students are willing to have class that starts at 12am because she was excellent at the topic. You give her any difficult problems- she can solve it easily.  She never taught with our school textbook or local reference book. Instead, we were all required to buy the Halliday and Resnick Fundamental of Physics– a textbook meant for Amercian first year Engineering students.

What I remembered most about her is her infectious passion for Physics- she even made many of us like the formidable topic.  We learn to solve physic ‘puzzles’ through applying the various laws of physics. And if you study the real physics textbook, most of the questions asked requires not only knowledge, but creative problem solving skills.

Sometimes, our classes ended only at 2am and we had school the next day. And she still had to rush to the next batch of students. She told us that she’s lucky if she can catch 4 hours of sleep.

On the other hand, I would also like to share with you the story of my form 6 Physics class teacher- who at first told us that she hated Physics and asked us to take tuition outside. But time changed her and eventually, she was able to convince herself to learn to like the subject. She made a good example of how, even if we are stuck in a job that we don’t love, we can find a way to develop interest for it. No matter how she tried to run away from teaching Physics, she still ended up having to teach the subject.

Well, these are the teachers left a strong impression and inspired me. It made my academic life more bearable. As I come out into the working world, I applied some of the values I learnt from them:

  • From my standard six BM teacher, I’ve put in extra effort to make sure my staff understand the information that I try to convey.
  • From my Mandarin teacher, I’ve learned to offer motivation and encouragement for them to go on- well, I don’t give them rubber erasers but I make sure their good deeds or accomplishment does not go unnoticed by their bosses
  • From my Physics tuition teacher, I’ve learnt to develop enthusiasm for what I do and don’t give up at the slightest obstacle- when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. And because I love blogging so much, I was willing to sometimes forgo a little sleep so that I have time to update them
  • From my Physics class teacher, I’ve learnt to accept the parts of my job that I dislike and motivate myself I do it…for the sake of those who are counting on me.
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