While I was tucking in at the IDC 2011 (Inter-School Debating Championship) Grand Dinner, I spotted a familiar face. There was this waiter who looked exactly like my student. I only caught a glimpse of him but I brushed it off as coincidence. Pelanduk dua serupa kot...
Not long after that, I saw two other waiters who looked like students of mine too. Then, it dawned on me, they are all my students working part-time with the catering company.
The 2 boys said 'Hi' and confirmed that I did saw S earlier. Two more students showed up, smiled shyly, all 5 offering to replenish the dishes on my table ("Teacher nak tambah apa2 lagi?").
I don't know why but I felt a bit sad. I'm not implying that waitressing is demeaning or anything like that. In fact, it's probably good that they're learning the value of hardwork and how hard it is to earn a living in the real world.
Maybe I was too pampered when I was growing up and thus it saddens me that some kids have to work at the ages of 15/16 to earn some extra pocket money or to help with their family's financial situation.
In an ideal world, kids shouldn't have to worry about money. It's their parents' job to provide for them.
Further, ideally, kids should be shielded from as much unpleasantness for as long as possible.
The encounter made me realise that I had no idea about the lives that my kids are leading and what they go through on a daily basis.
The 5 boys that I saw often test my patience in class, each in their own unique way.
Seeing them that night made me see them in a different light:
No wonder they are not interested in learning.
No wonder I had such trouble getting them to do any work in class ---> They just have too many things on their plate that education is no longer a priority.
I think teachers should realise that our kids come from various backgrounds, and most of the time, those backgrounds are vastly different from our own upbringing.
As the saying goes, "You'll never understand a person until you walk a mile in their shoes"