I guess it was the last time I really had any free time.
Since then, I've been preoccupied with work, pregnancy and well, nothing else. Today I need to rant.
I came home today at 6.30 pm. Is this the latest I've been home? Not really. I've had longer days. Was it a bad day? No, it was rather run-of-the-mill, truth be told.
So ... why the rant today? The simple answer - I need to unload; empty my mind - write crap about those who cause me and my colleagues pain. The funny thing is, I don't even know who my enemies are. Ah Education System, you cowardly, heartless, faceless b***h.
PLEASE LET ME TEACH!!!
This is my one and only plea. I'm sure many teachers around the country echo this plea of mine. All I really wanted to do when I signed up for this profession was to teach, to mold young minds, to sculpt an entire generation of good, honest people - all those things you'd think a teacher is supposed to do.
Well, the dark, dirty truth is, being a teacher entails a lot more than that. And, while I believe I epitomized the "Don't ask, just do" aka "Saya yang menurut perintah" model teacher, the mask is cracking and slipping. My iron-clad beliefs in a system that is failing me, my wards and their parents is melting faster than you can say "Burn-out!"
Teacher's workload I
I signed up knowing full well that I'd have to conduct lessons with less than reluctant learners everyday. Mountain loads of marking to be done everyday and night? Yeah, no problemo. I knew that I'd be under that hot, shining orb of a sun, running, sweating with the best o' them. 2nd life as a lintah darat? Oh yea, many a times have I had to call up parents demanding school fees. A drill sergeant? Pfft, easy peasy. Tour guiding on my days off? Been there, done that. How about mediator? Spiritual counselor? War-zone translator? CSI investigator? On a daily-basis, baby!
So am I complaining about my career as a teacher for any of the above reasons?
Because those are part of my job. Building a human being ain't a piece of cake. I knew that from the get-go.
What I didn't know was, I'd have to give up all my dreams of planning awesome possum lessons. That I'd be rushing through my marking, if I had time to mark anything at all. That I'd be a great asset to the school but a horrible, irritable teacher to my kids.
Not to mention a bad wife to Kean Ghee - I hardly have time to cook or clean. And I don't make enough m$$lah to get household help to do those things either. So, yes, we live in filth. I'm a bad mommy to Tora, who I only see right before I leave the house and when I come home. I will most probably be a poor mother to my future child, seeing that I spend almost ten hours at work and two hours commuting to and fro, another two to three hours doing schoolwork at home and six hours sleeping every night. I work Saturdays (all four weekends this particular month). My personal life is...non-existent. School holidays are not a luxury anymore, I believe, it's necessary and it's what hinges me to my sanity.
School's Dirty Secrets (SDS)
Today I saw a colleague on the verge of tears. It was 5.30pm. I was at the Bilik Headcount to grab my kiddies' Headcount cards. (School's Dirty Secret No 1: Headcount does nothing for your kids - nothing at all. They're the white elephant that no one dares to get rid off). This colleague was in school earlier than me today (no mean feat, since I usually get to school at 6.35am). And she was on the verge of tears, not because of any of the any of the things I mentioned in the section labelled Teacher's workload I. It was because she couldn't reconcile some figures needed for a meeting tomorrow.
You see, (SDS No2), schools nowadays don't cater to the students per se. We cater to the over-inflated expectations of the district/state education departments. We don't match and meet the needs of students when we plan how to teach. We teach to fulfill the GPS (aka GPA) set for our school by the authorities.
And (SDS No3), in the past couple of years, I've spent more time on writing reports, filling in forms, filing, attending meetings, typing letters, entering data than I have planning lessons. It's not that these things actually take up sooooooo much time. But if you consider the actual workload of teachers, it's not that light to begin with - so every hour you take away from me is another hour lost to the students.
It's sad, really sad.
Even more sadly, we're churning out kiddies who can't really think and act for themselves (in a productive way anyway). They're fine when it comes to normal worksheets, task sheets, exam modules etc etc. But give them a project to do and watch their self-confidence/control unravel. Case in point, I've got a bunch of kids in Form 2 who can't put together a simple play (Rumpelstiltskin, if you're wondering) without relying on someone to remind them of every simple detail.
I've had the whole class sit around and wait for me to show up (when I've mentioned explicitly that they should start without me because I have a coinciding extra class) for half an hour. The roles had already been assigned and it was not the first practice (more like 5th or 6th). The conversation btw me and them went something like this:
BLUE - Me
YELLOW - Them
Why haven't you all started?
Well, practice your lines...fix the props....match the sound effects (all these were a continuation from previous sessions).
(looks at each other)
Don’t you see what we’ve been doing every time we have prac?
Yes….*brainwave* BUT Rose isn’t here!! (murmurs of “Yea, yea…” among kids)
Soooo? She’s one person from the sixteen in your group. Go on without her if she’s late! Where is she anyway?
Err…errr….dunno. DUnno. Dunno. (someone pipes up) She went to Jusco!
(horrified as kids under my charge) WHAT? When? With who?
Oh….phew. Okay, come on then, let’s start. Rose can join us later.
(Miniscule movements – looking at each other to see if they should move)(shift shift, turn turn – still seated)
(Exasperated) Well, what are you waiting for???
(Finally someone stands – immediately goes to another corner and sits down)
OMG … okay, okay, actors and actresses gather around. Props people, get ready to show me your work. Same goes for sound effects people. Director (Leader) please go from group to group to check in on progress ok?
(Works with acting group for about 15 minutes – realize sound effects people have begun watching YouTube and are laughing away with Director)I swear, I would have laughed if my nerves didn't feel like 32 kids were sitting on it. And it's pretty tiring to carry on a conversation like this at least once everyday with various groups of students who don't see why I react the way I react. Usually, they go, "Ah...rilek ah teacher."
However, when I really, really think about it, the kids' attitudes and how they behave aren't necessarily their fault 100% . I believe there's a change going on. Truth be told, if I examine myself, I'm right there....a tiny dot on the line graph that shows the change in how kids react towards the world around them.
I think it's a huge social change that we may or may not be aware of.
It's a theory of mine and it's something that I think about everyday.
Okay, tired now. One day, I'll tell it to you.