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Teaching Philosophy

August 1, 2015

You become a teacher, and lecturer. That said, this does not mean everyone who becomes a teacher at schools or lecturer at a post-secondary level would be able to accomplish that, because, truth be told, it requires humility and the willingness to confront some of your own psychosis, and deep-set fears, to be able to get into the skin of another, and that includes, your students. A psychologist friend once told me that psychologists have to go through professional counseling to be able to decompress from the daily demands of their job. I think this applies to teachers and lecturers too, unless, perhaps, they think, it is just a job like any other.

Each generation is different, and each has their quirks and peculiarities. The generation before likes to complain about the generation that comes after. I suspect that part of the complain stems from the discomfort of having a latter generation reflecting back to the generation before, the former’s worst traits. Truly, it is in teaching, I find myself coming face-to-face with all manner of students, who remind me of my contemporaries, and even of the much older adults I know.  It also reminded me of myself – as my students would point out, I had been a student myself (and that is true, since I only completed my full-time PhD last year) – of what had motivated me as an undergrad. I see microcosms of myself and of the people I knew, reflected in each 20-something, or late adolescent, I work with.

I came into teaching, and into academics, after a very contentious relationship with it in my early adult years – as I’d mentioned in my previous post, when I was in industry, I met people who had a distaste for academics, and I was one of those people even if I was, at the same time, enamored with the world of ideas. I came to teaching because I was no model student (in fact, I will come out to say that I had misspent a part of my later adolescence and early adulthood, disenchanted with academics). I hated exams with such a passion by the time I graduated college that I originally gave up on the idea of graduate school, which I was considering because I love research, learning, and making discoveries. I took up the MA that took me down the path I am in today because of a dare and an experiment, a curiosity to know what it was like on the other side of a pond (as I had been a science student all the way through college). Were I to fail in my endeavor, it wouldn’t be something I have not experienced, but I would never know until I try.

I thought, maybe teaching would give me a chance to make some a difference in the lives of those who trust us with their money and education, and those who nobody would give a rat-ass about. But in the end, I realize it is just as much about my own healing and coming to understanding of the self as it is about making a gentle ripple in the pond. We learn and struggle through an education together.

P.S: From my vantage point and from the grapevine, I hear so much about mental health and learning disability issues affecting young adults in institutions of higher education in Malaysia not being  given sufficient attention. Oftentimes, a student’s lack of achievement is as much about their inability to cope/manage the issues they  face as it is about attitude/aptitude. From my limited experience, I have seen how even the ‘worst’ student can improve tremendously when challenged the right way, as long as they are not allowing poor attitude to get in the way.

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