Dominador Awiten .
RECENTLY, there is an arresting article in Sydney Morning Herald. Written a few years back, the item has an interesting title – “Lost generation finds new pride.”
The author, Miranda Devine, is an Australian newspaper columnist who is noted for being of a conservative bent on social and political discourse.
However, there may be an occasion when she would label other conservative persons that she is critical of as “delcon” – delusional conservatives.
The article is about an activist Aboriginal leader. Noel Pearson was in Year 5 at a primary school. It was in the mid-1970s when a fill-in teacher, an old woman whose name he no longer remembers, arrived.
What comes to his mind is the “long, torrid year with the nameless teacher.” She taught the class high school English, with much intensive drilling on literacy, Noel felt it “like doing football practice day in and day out.”
He now says it was the year of his “literacy breakthrough.”
The experience was what made him shine in his formal schooling, from boarding school to his finishing the college degree in history and law.
For Pearson, the teacher’s dedicated teaching of English were “the seeds sown for the education revolution” that he has launched as his initiative to “erase the dysfunction and lost opportunity” of the young in his community. He founded an institute for policy and leadership that he said would be committed to promote the social and economic development of their community.
To Pearson, “the essence of the good teacher is above all the quality of their instruction.”
We, too, have had such endearing experience of “good teaching.”
Our Grade 6 homeroom teacher is one such unforgettable teacher. She taught us English by relating to the class short stories in a teachers’ magazine.
One such story was the famous Japanese folk tale about a boy whose father suddenly rushes uphill to burn the rice fields as his way of alerting the townsfolk on the ground that a tsunami is forming and heading toward their village, and thereby making them all come up.
The question was what made the father (or in another version the grandfather) burn or make the boy burn the rice fields. We were, then, very unknowing in expressing our thoughts in English, so the teacher gently invited us to speak in the native tongue.
In our freshman high school class, there were sessions in English SRA, when we did classwork on reading materials produced and distributed by Science Research Associates. The reading exercises developed our ability in comprehension and logic as well as improved our aptitude in grammar and composition. They improved our vocabulary and introduced us to novel concepts in math, science, history and other subjects.
In college, we had a freshman class in English Speech Laboratory in which our young, cheerful teacher (who also worked part-time as a bank teller in day time) guided us in the exercise of verbalizing an action or a body part.
She asked us to identify a character from clues provided in her action or pointing to a body part. She pointed first to her feet, acting as if she was about to put on the shoes. Her hands were counting money. She was swimming in a large ocean. She drew on air the letter “D.”
She stepped back. She pointed upward and covered her head. She danced. Her right hand moved as if she were patting a child.
She was referring to the hit movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Apropos to the responsibility of the teacher to provide the learning breakthrough, we have the succinct observation of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the secularist founder of the Republic of Turkey: “A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.”
For Brad Henry, a former State Governor of Oklahoma and a university president: “A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.”