I haven’t posted a blog post for a while and life has been trundling away like before. Adelaide is still cold as we are steadily moving towards the end of winter. I thought I’d post a blog post tonight before I get busy or distracted again. 🙂 I have mentioned previously that my life in academia is very different to my previous life chapters as an ambitious yuppie or as a middle-level manager. However time and time again I am reminded how fulfilling it is to teach and to work with young people and empower them with the knowledge that is useful for their future.
Being a tutor for the last two years and having lectured in the first part of 2012 means that I know quite a large number of students and ex-students. From time to time when I go to a restaurant, a cafe or food court, I meet my students or ex-students who work to support themselves. This weekend is no different – a group of us went to a Chinese restaurant in the southern suburb of Adelaide yesterday and the waiter asked me whether I taught at uni, as he had seen me around campus. He was wondering whether I could give him a hint on an assignment – for a subject that I have never taught. I suppose it’s good to be noticed and remembered – even by somebody who I have never actually taught. 🙂 A friend of mine at the dining table also related a story when his friend told him that he had a helpful and supportive tutor – my friend didn’t realise that he was talking about me. I taught his friend nearly two years ago, I’d say. He connected the dots when he saw that I befriended his mate on Facebook. 🙂
This afternoon, I also met two of my ex-students in a cafe in Unley, a trendy inner southern suburb in Adelaide. I recognised one of the waiters as somebody who I taught last year – we said our hello and had a small talk in between him serving our group and other tables. Then when the cook came out, I also knew him from the same class that I taught the other ex-student. I enjoy building rapport with the students and knowing that the students appreciate my teaching.
I do meet difficult students from time to time but I have a personal satisfaction when I see them by the end of the study period, excelling in the subject and understanding the concepts that I teach them. It’s the satisfaction that I don’t get from analysing numbers and customers (although I am still a geek at heart and that I love immersing myself in numbers and data … haha). In the first year of my tutoring, there was a mature age student who openly challenged in me in the class and uttered “Bulls–t” as I taught the class about one of the analysis techniques. She openly challenged me, trying to find my boundaries. By the end of the study period, she told me how much she had learned from the subject and how she started telling her colleagues about the knowledge that she gained from the course. That was certainly one of the “Awwww …” moments!
I thought about these experiences after I watched the first episode of Class of … from Channel TEN – I didn’t watch it on Wednesday as I had to attend the AMSRS South Australian Division Annual General Meeting, so I watched it online. The programme tracks a group of students who had failed Year 11 before and are undergoing Year 11 at a Senior College in Sydney. Most of them came with their emotional baggage and hardship and watching how the teachers try to turn their lives around is enough to make me appreciate of the privilege that has been given to me, by teaching at the university.
I do experience the same highs, lows and heartaches as well dealing with the youth at church – but I suppose I can only guide and teach those who are willing to be guided and taught. It’s the same principle in academic teaching as well. Some seeds will fall on rocky ground, but when they land on fertile soil and start to bear fruit – ah, what joy it is! 🙂
My mum was a teacher when she was younger – and somehow my second sister, my third sister, as well as my older brother are also involved in the education sector one way or the other. Perhaps this is my calling all along 🙂