A Teacher's Lament

Posted by M ws On Thursday, March 15, 2012 0 comments
I became a teacher by accident. My ambition was to be a lawyer, journalist or a musician. None of that came to pass although I did end up giving guitar and keyboard lessons at one time. My first stint in teaching was actually in church as a Sunday School teacher. The best treasures in my life are memories of the time spent with my students and seeing how many, if not all, of them are so successful in life today.

Sadly, the standard of English is so bad these days that to console myself after marking essays, I dig out OLD essays or answer scripts from days gone by. And I lay them on my dining table. And I can see so clearly how the mastery of the English Language, even that of perspective and maturity of thought - has been slowly declining, diminishing and deteriorating. Tragic!!!!

This evening, I took out a folder of works by one of my old students who is currently a 2nd year undergraduate @ University of Melbourne. I tutored him for 8 years from the time he was in Year 4 @ Dalat International School. Then he transferred to SCIPS (St Christopher's International Primary School) and later to Uplands and then to Taylor's College. I cried so much during his last lesson with me for Eugene is certainly one of the BEST students I have ever taught in my life, apart from Jackson. Both of them have shown me nothing but respect, love and diligence. I still have all the writing projects Eugene did for me including his own epilogues for Artemis Fowl! Precious! Teaching him then was such an inspiring journey for me. Alas, those were the days!!! Today, I am filled with tears when I despair over the many faulty sentences/grammatical errors, misuse of punctuation, malapropism in abundance and a host of other weaknesses displayed by older students. :-(

His younger sister, Nicole, will be leaving my 'wings' in May this year and I will mourn deeply for I have seen her grow from a pre-schooler to the lovely teen she is today. There is no way I can ever find good students with a commendable grasp of English like they have. They survived my eccentric moods, scolding but devoted guidance and teaching. Nicole is the last of my students who will leave in May together with JP and Ian. :-( I do not want to teach any more, except in college. It is just TOO painful to see the rot and the horrible standard of English in our land.

To be honest, when I mark college essays, I really cry my eyes out for I can see the horrible decline in the standard of English, especially from 2011 to 2012, thanks to the new English the syllabus where students no longer get to study Shakespeare's Sonnet 18 or Somerset Maugham's 'The Lotus Eater' or Steinbeck's "The Pearl" etc. :-( You cannot imagine how bad it is. Ask any senior English teacher/lecturer and you can see the anguish in their faces and hear the sorrow in their lamentations of 'English' days gone by....

When he was 13, Eugene wrote the following story during a school test and it was submitted for a Young Writers' Competition and he won one of the prizes. This story was featured in Page 24 of Young Writers - Telling T.A.L.E.S. From Around the World.

Note: Eugene wrote this on his own without any guidance from me. I do not believe in telling students what to write but in HOW to unleash their imagination and writing potential.

The Unexpected Incident - written by Eugene Huang

I am here, resting from the search for my family and ... my legs. Blurry images from the past flash past my eyes like a horrible nightmare. It has been ten years, but I can recall the experience even now.

It all started when I was eight. My family and I were living in a tranquil neighbourhood like every family. Everything was normal, except there was a murderer hanging about, waiting to tear the life out of the next victim. I told myself I could be the next in line to get murdered!

Anyway, I was left alone at home one day when my parents went to a local antique shop. After ten minutes, the doorbell rang. I went to the door and opened it...bad idea.

A masked-man dressed b a black jacket and black shorts took a rope and strangled me. I struggled as much as I could, but he jabbed a knife into my neck at the edge A sudden feeling of pain and headache rushed to my head as I felt blood splatter out of me. The bleeding made my vision blurry and red.

Then his hand reached for the machete hidden in his jacket and sliced off my foot. As it contacted, there was a sudden blackout.

Seconds later, I looked down and saw my body on the ground, left to rot. My legs were gone.

The man was gone too and I walked upstairs feeling that I was floating, but I didn't realise until later as the only thing on my mind was my parents. They were gone and I didn't know why.

Grief and anger filled my mind. Yet, I have to stop reminiscing and continue my search.....

-Written by Eugene Huang-

*Eugene, you will always be in my heart and I am VERY proud of you!

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