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What teaching means to me - A Passion.

posted May 9, 2012, 1:34 AM by Sonam Leki   [ updated May 9, 2012, 8:01 AM ]
Norbu Lama
I am writing this amidst the controversy of ban on corporal punishment in schools and a teacher beaten up by a student’s father, the latter has a black eye and a broken tooth. And yet…

Every morning before I enter the class I make a silent prayer to myself:

Lord, help me to part the best I know,
despite my prejudice and ignorance.
Give me the fire to light several lamps,
who flicker and gleam in various glow .

Nothing gives me more pleasure than when I am in the center of a classroom with a book in my hand, chalk dust all over my gho, and 30 pairs of eyes open with enthusiasm and awe.

I teach the students of 9 and 10 grade English, more specifically literature. The nature of my subject demands me to go far beyond the confinements of prescribed textbook. My role as a literature teacher trespasses the concrete walls of classroom…until my kids are freed from my personal disbeliefs and the stereotypes of society; until they triumph in the larger classroom of life. It’s a tough call but I have to live by that image in constant fear that: have I done justice to my profession?

I don’t know whether I can be safely labeled with a ‘role model’ tag attached to a teacher as I have my own existential devils to fight. In the feedbacks I received from my students I am reminded of my impulsive short temperament that I carry into my classroom. I do not blame the innocent kids but can I help it?

I tried to comprehend the genesis of my accused wrath but do not mistake my passion with my impulsive nature. May be I mix my emotion with my profession. Maybe I am passionate about the subject I am in romance with.

My anger erupts when I find the pupils in my class sitting like vegetables, defenseless in total submission, to be chopped by the blades of formula, grinded by theories and grammatical conventions. I refuse to see my students like magnificent stagnant pool, rather a gushing spring that trails its way to the ocean of truth-the ultimate knowledge. It hurts me to see creative bubbles popped with needles of silence. When I tell my disciplined quiet students to ‘make some noise’ in the class, they smile at me thinking that it was a joke! The noise I was referring to is the guts to stand alone and speak out your mind. To challenge the theories and definition before passively swallowing it without chewing. Before you lose your voice in the crowd. I am not being defensive but simply mindful.

I lost my infamous coolness on several occasions when I found homework undone or sleeping in the class…but I don’t remember shouting at them for wrong answers. I certainly don’t deserve silence for an answer. If I am morally paid to teach, they have equal moral obligation to learn. In one of the classes I taught, I burst out my passion:

If my shouting at you (my students) can make you do your homework on time, I don’t mind barking.
If I give you a difficult task, it’s because I believe you can do it with an extra bit of effort.
If I make you look ridiculous in class, it’s because I want you to prove me wrong.
If I ever lay my hand on you, and if you can learn from it, I won’t regret an inch.

The day I lose this passion, I cease to be a teacher. This is what teaching means to me against all odds. I don’t claim to be a perfect role model, I am but learning to teach. My students  are my best judge.

I rest my case.

Norbu Lama
Yebilaptsa MSS