Its ironic that in most countries, the nations' educators are one of the most poorly paid. Those who shape the young minds of the country are over-worked, in sometimes less than desirable working conditions and horribly underpaid. A typical day, involves taking on many hats; educator, administrator, mediator,therapist,counselor,miracle worker,planner,cheering squad,creative director,surrogate parent..the list goes on and on.
I should know. I am the daughter of two educators. My mom retired as a high school teacher although she started her career in elementary. My dad went from being a high school teacher, to a lecturer at a Teacher Training College, then went on to retire as principal of a primary school. But he is still working at 64 years of age now at a private international school, teaching English.
I grew up watching them tirelessly dedicated to the students they were teaching. Every day they gave a 100 percent and as I grew older, I used to wonder what motivated them when it became painfully apparent that it was not the $$$. I could never understand how they gave so much of themselves to their "children" during and after school hours. How involved they were in their lives, how they cried when they couldn't do any more to help and the tears of pride & joy when they watched them excel. I couldn't understand the devotion.
But now, suddenly it all makes sense to me. As I look around my home and my dad's study, the walls are dotted with artwork from students, tons of cards are tacked up and tucked away and I have lost count of the gifts that they have brought back. They are all visible manifestations of the lives they have touched and made a difference in. Ultimately at the end of their days, they know without a shadow of doubt, their lives had meaning. They served mankind and through their dedication, there are scores of doctors, lawyers, teachers, business people etc roaming about in the world today whom they had a part in shaping.
A couple of weeks ago, I attended a wedding with my parents when a gentleman in his late 40's walked up to my dad. And with great humility, he greeted my dad and said that my dad was his lecturer at the training college in the seventies. He is now the afternoon principal in one of Ipoh's premier schools. And yet he still looks at my dad with so much of fondness and admiration.
Recently, my dad received a card from a student from his graduating class in the international school he is in. Here is an excerpt:
Dearest Mr A,
......I really really really appreciate having you as my teacher, your wisdom, your spirit, your oh-so lovable existence in my life. You'll always be cherished deep in my heart as my funky Mr Cool who made us call ourselves brainless buttheads, motivate us, standing by us unconditionally, enriching us with your witty "being" and the GREAT teacher who proves that the student and teacher relationship is an everlasting one that does not end after the class. Thank you once again and continue your amazing job enriching the lives of more brainless buttheads! The countless experiences with you are absolutely priceless. Thank you so much!
.....from xxx Graduating Class of 2006
Today at 64, he is still touching young lives and I have no doubt that he will continue doing so for a long time to come. I realise now why he does it because teaching isn't a career. If it was, well, monetarily its the most unrewarding. No, its not a career but a vocation. And this is the result of a teacher whose vocation is teaching. Fulfillment that is beyond dollars and cents.
I am truly proud of him and my mom because they have shown me that in whatever I do and pursue, I must have a vocation in life. Otherwise, there really is no point in the work we do daily.