Today, on teachers’ day as I sit and reminisce on my life as a teacher, I remember my teaching journey with candid details. It’s been an arduous one, riveted with painful pit stops and bouts of accelerated exhilaration. I’ve had moments of eureka outbursts and also plenty of Suppandi shy aways. I’ve been put on a pedestal and also dragged into deep venom infested pits. Yes, indeed, it’s been a wobbly roller coaster ride but a most gratifying one.
Teaching has been the best career choice I’ve made. I’ve never had a moment of regret in spite of the numerous challenges I’ve faced. Perhaps, the most challenging yet the best part of being a teacher, has been my students. I’ve met all kinds of students over the years. Some of them oozing with confidence and others desperately shy. Some had endless tricks up their sleeves while others were genuinely naive. Then, there were the angry ones and the hyper active ones, the devil and the saint. Occasionally, there were backbenchers who strove to break all stereotypical norms associated with back benching. Sometimes, there were the language freaks and the science geeks. Dance lovers and study bunkers. In the process of teaching I’ve taken to task many of these students, however, I make no attempt to apologise to them. I do remember a few telling me about it years later in friendly conversation but I still hold my truth that all this was done in their best interest. Now, my students are doctors, engineers, journalists, fellow teachers, entrepreneurs, actors, educated farmers, stewardesses, researchers, IT personals and I am proud to be part of who they are now and what they’ve achieve. The colours they’ve interjected into the tapestry of my life have enriched me both emotionally and intellectually.
Teaching is a nerve wrecking profession. It is not glamorous nor does it provide instant gratification. It is a slow process which requires dedication, hard work, motivation and most importantly courage. Courage is perhaps the most daring quality that a teacher must have. It is with this that a teacher is able to shoulder on diverse roles and responsibilities. It is with courage that a teacher can profess to be master in his/her profession and then work towards upholding it. It is with courage that a teacher reprimands his students to bring out the best in them. It is with courage that a teacher is willing to be the clown to provide the much needed respite during co-curricular activities. Or be the punching bag to allow the students to vent their frustrations on. Only through these qualities can a teacher truly emulate ‘wholesome education’ at its best. Therefore, being a master, a jester, a councillor, a friend and all the other different roles that a teacher must play is a feat not everyone can take on or wish to subject themselves to. Teachers are therefore the epitome of courage, today more so than ever.
Bhutanese teachers today face a barrage of criticism and abuse physically and mentally from all segments of our society. They are the most highly monitored/inspected group of people. Every action and movement is scrutinised by the public like vultures ready to dive in for the feed. The public senses are on high alert and every way side gossip or passing comment is blown out of proportion or broadcast as headline news. Yet, the teachers continue to teach and do it with conviction. If this is not courage then what is?
So, today to my teaching fraternity let me congratulate you on another year of success. The fact that you are celebrating another ‘Teachers day’ is proof enough of your achievement and your unfailing courage and will towards upholding the teaching profession. May the teaching tribe increase and become ever more robust and resilient! Cheers to teachers and all who choose it and cheers to students who make the ride eventful!
(Zinpai Zangmo is a teacher in Thimphu)