Teachers don’t have it easy

It wasn’t too long ago that the intern abuse surfaced and became a hot topic concerning protection and welfare for interns. Now, it’s the recent abuse of a three-year-old by a childcare teacher that takes the spotlight; goes to show that no misdeed is too small to go unnoticed – especially when it’s caught on video (for both instances, mind you!).

While it’s a no-brainer to dismiss the teacher immediately, this incident certainly brings into question the pressing emotional and psychological pressure that teachers face when dealing with Singapore’s little ones on a daily basis.

After all, the teacher had no prior complaints and it’s safe to say she didn’t just wake up one morning and decided to wilfully take out her frustrations on a defenceless child…

A close friend of mine shared that she joined the teaching sector fresh out of university. Despite the good pay, she tendered her resignation on day 2 without even having a back-up job. Why the sudden change of heart?

In the span of one day, she had spent most of her time yelling at the top of her lungs to get the young students quiet, and dealt with disrespectful older students who thought nothing of making demeaning comments and rude gestures at her.

At the end of day one she had lost her spirit and her voice!

“Teaching is definitely not for everyone, my assigned mentor had been doing this for years, and when I asked her why, she said it’s because she loves children. At least I knew soon enough that this wasn’t for me before I did something I would have regretted… and believe me when I say the temptation is there!” – Jen W., an ex-primary school teacher.

There’s certainly more to what teachers do besides drawing stars for a test well done; they start work at 7am in the morning and stay-on past 5pm for CCAs. Even after school, their position as role model means they have to be mindful of their actions even in their personal lives. They’re expected to be fair and strict disciplinarians and yet have to deal with whiny parents if they dare discipline their precious child.

Remember that story about the parents who filed a police report over a haircut? I can certainly see why any teacher would lose patience!

“The new incoming teachers especially have a challenging time dealing with kids, so most would opt to teach secondary students, but they too present a different set of problems. I was a relief teacher once and a boy threatened me with a pocket knife.” – Kai C., a secondary school male teacher.

Then again, no adult would want to admit that they can’t deal with a minor, and more often than not, holding in such a seemingly small problem may lead to a bigger issue that the suffering teacher fails to identify or deal with.

Again, let me say that no one is condoning the action of the teacher, perhaps not even this recent case which surfaced shortly after, because adults should know their level of tolerance better.

But this whole saga has certainly shed light on a demanding and thankless profession we all take for granted.

So join me in saluting those who have not only managed to keep their cool, but also succeeded in inspiring their students who will remember them for years to come!

I personally remember my strictest teachers the best, because under their tough exterior they deeply loved us and cared about our future!

In fact, the only time you can see a crack of softness in them is during Teacher’s Day, when you hand them a stalk of rose and perform for them in appreciation for their hard work.

“In this time and age, students, even the really young ones, are quick to suss out what kind of teacher you are – inexperienced, new, fierce, etc. – so in order to establish a reputation as someone who’s not to be messed with, you can’t show them your soft side just yet.” – Amanda L., a primary school discipline teacher.

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Lavinia Lim

Yoga, writing, dancing, reading....

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