(Pic courtesy : smartycartoons.com via Google)
Of late, conversations with one particular acquaintance have tended to hinge around holidays. Impending holidays, that is. I’ve been at the receiving end of this particular statement every so often “Oh God ! You are in a nice profession, I say. Teachers get a month and a half of holidays in the summer plus breaks around Christmas, Easter and what have you. I am going to switch jobs and be a teacher too. It is fun, easy to do and not demanding. I mean, look at my current job. I am going nuts. You are having a nice time there – teaching itty bitty little primary kids. Must be an easy job .“
Ahem …. I told that particular acquaintance of mine to go ahead and get teaching qualifications and try to get a job as a teacher. More importantly, what I did not tell her was that she would need all her patience, charm, wits, brains and then some to stay sane. I kind of decided to drop that bit because it will sink in sooner or later because once she starts teaching full time, she is sure to have loads of free time on her hands, right ?
Nothing to it actually, like she says. Just imagine yourself amongst 32-33 (if you are really lucky, you’ll have about 40 of them together, at one go) little ones who would, on any given day, give Energizer Bunnies a run for their money. Now, as a teacher, you are responsible not just for teaching them the subject matter on hand but at that point of time in the classroom, you are a sort of mom plus first aid worker plus nurse plus counsellor plus disciplinarian plus social worker plus psychologist – all rolled into one. Of course, you are a teacher as well.
Now when you have about 30 plus kids around you, whose primary (and at times, only) objective is to turn you into a deaf-mute, what you will need right then is a course in basic survival (for yourself, I mean). Oh yes ! Teaching is a cushy profession.
Among those thirty odd kids that you have in your classroom, there are bound to be self-driven and self-motivated entrepreneurs. Some dream of becoming a hair stylist upon growing up and having their own salon but like I said earlier, the little 6 and 7 year olds are an enterprising lot. They simply can’t wait to start their own hair salon. I mean, growing up takes way too long, doesn’t it ? They will, sometime during the course of your lesson, preferably when you are writing something of importance on the board, decide that they can make do with the hair of the kid sitting on the desk in front of them and “style” their hair. You will, of course, at some point of time during your lesson, discover that one or more of the kids in your class have had their hair shorn and now sport streaks or spots of near baldness. Between getting the little “would be hairdressers” to understand that they cannot experiment on just about anything or anyone that has hair and trying not to stare at the ”recently hair dressed” little ones who would either be bawling or admiring themselves, one would become a master in the art of conquering hyperventilation. Oh yes ! Teaching is a cushy profession.
Also among those thirty odd kids, one is bound to have a good measure of kids whose idea of fun is to stand on chairs and try and take the “reach for the stars” thing a bit too seriously and try and touch the ceiling or take a sudden nose dive over their desks onto the floor just to see far away the floor is or how hard they can hit their heads on the floor or kids that will poke the kids sitting next to them just to see how long they have to poke them to evoke an anger reaction and many more such random, highly interesting activities. If ever there was a lesson in patience or anger management, this would be one of the extremely effective ones ! Oh yes ! Teaching is a cushy profession.
Among those thirty plus kids, there are would be many a budding artist. What better to practice your art on than the uniform shirt of your friend who sits right in front of you, huh ? Who needs sketch paper ? Uniforms are way better to practice art on, especially when they are not your own !! Let’s not go into the tears and the rage that will invariably follow. It is one of those unique opportunities that would present itself ever so often and in a few months these experiences will mould and exemplify you as the “still on earth” version of Mother Teresa. Oh yes ! Teaching is a cushy profession.
When teaching older kids, the joy just increases manifold. It would be a good idea, if you are a teacher in HK, to learn all the swear words and bad language that exist in Cantonese. That way, you would be one Enlightened Buddha when one of the older kids swears at you. I don’t know about “being as zen as a Buddha” if that happens. That’s a different story altogether. Oh yes ! Teaching is a cushy profession.
Every single class you walk into, is bound to have students who are really strong in the language and really weak in the language, in terms of proficiency and use. There is also a good measure of the “in betweens” a.k.a average students. You have to turn into a David Copperfield of sorts to dish out lesson plans that can cater to this whole diversity in student population, at the same time. Added bonus if it is one of the classes with older kids. You will also be at the receiving end of a huge variety of reactions that those pre-teens can muster, all directed by hormones that play Pokemon with their senses at that age. Hmm.. you will probably have to do that about five times a day, five days a week. Have you watched one of those jugglers on America’s Got Talent who juggle with chainsaws ?? One stint in one such classroom will probably feel the same way. Oh yes ! Teaching is a cushy profession.
Picnics are super fun. You would probably end up at the same picnic spot with five other schools, on the same day, at the same time. To make things easier for you, kids from atleast two of the other schools would have the same uniform colours as the kids from your school. To make things even easier, the kids would all be running around and playing in one big, happy, noisy confusion and the teachers would need to do a headcount before leaving the picnic spot. Sheer joy, that one !! Oh yes ! Teaching is a cushy profession.
But of course, kind soul that I am, I did not mention any of this to my “acquaintance” who is, just about now, probably making that life turning decision to take up teaching as a career, just because she thinks it is cushy and has something called “vacations” attached to it.
Yeah, I’m quite mean that way !!!