During my school days my academic results can be considered good even though they were nothing to shout about. In my Form Six class I even managed to get 4th in class. However I didn't do very well in the HSC. The results were far from perfect and definitely not good enough for the top courses in the university. But the problem was that I wasn't even aware of that. Unlike these days when you can search online to find the courses which match your results, we were actually quite ignorant. In modern language we were quite blurrr... In short, I didn't get any place. There were only 3 universities those days and enrolment was low. To make it worse, the quota system made it extremely difficult for us to get in. Maybe I could have got some other less popular course but the naive me had to do the stupid thing of aiming a high target with a short range gun! Maybe it was destined that I end up being a teacher.
My first job was as a lab assistant in an oil refinery. Within 2 weeks I learnt up all the things I needed to do and sometimes I had to be in charge of the night shift. The pay was low. It was only during this time that I realised the harsh realities of life. Looking into the future with no light in sight was scary. I didn't want to end up as a lowly paid lab assistant all my life. Sometimes I cried silently at night worrying about my future. This is why I keep reminding my students to think about their future and their future. Sadly, some of them think I'm too materialistic. But actually I'm just being realistic.
Anyway, I had to act fast. The most logical thing to do was to get into the teacher training colleges. That way, you would be assured of a stable job and the best thing is everything is paid for. You even get an allowance as a trainee. But the tough part was getting in.
So I quit my job and took up temporary teaching. The reason? First the pay was double the lab assistant's. Second, to see whether I can teach. Third, the experience will help to convince the interviewer to accept me for teacher training college. After spending almost 2 years as a temporary teacher, I finally made it to the teacher training college. Looking back, I'm glad I made the bold and right choice of quitting a permanent job for a temporary job. After 2 years I saved some money to help me survive the 2 years in college..the allowance was miserably low but the transport, food and lodging were all taken of. Besides, the 2 years made me realise I can teach. I was asked to teach Science in the last Arts class. It was a battle half lost before it started. Most of the Arts students are weak and cannot get in the Science class and they are not interested in Science. Despite the odds, I managed to win them over. And I was really overwhelmed when one boy(Kiru, I still remember his name) told me before he left school, "Sir, You are the best teacher I have ever had". I remember telling him he said that just to please me but he convinced me he really meant it. So, does it mean I'm a born teacher? No, but I have what it takes to be a teacher....I had the genuine intention to make them learn, make them pass exam, and guide them to be better individuals. I think it was my sincerity and my undying efforts to teach them even though they were not interested that won over them. In my next post I'll recall the days in my teacher training college.