09 October 2007

maestro, maestra

Near the door of the room where I hold my classes there is a poster (not my making - it was a product of a reading project launched in school) which reads "If you can read this, then thank your teacher". It does not seek for approval or attention for the reading teachers nor an aggrandizement of some sort. It was just posted alongside other quotable quotes for the sake of the reading project. Nonetheless, it became a reminder for me, a teacher who was taught.

I am lucky to have had good teachers while in school. The ones that had influenced my thinking and my personality were the ones who made me laugh because of their great sense of humour, their booming voices and flair for drama.

I remember Mrs Lu, maths teacher in secondary school, who reduced us to tears and laughter with her surprise quizzes but brought us out from our phlegmatic number-hating selves. We knew we had one of her surprises when she came in and commanded us in her very loud voice - "SPREAD OUT", meaning space out your seats. Then, there would be the deafening dragging and pushing of chairs for a few seconds. It was to be that way for three more years with her.

At the same school, in senior year, we had Mrs Paulate, the bespectaled schoolmarm who was soft spoken but very vocal and intent on perfecting everyone's writing skills. She was from the old school, disciplinarian and very autocratic. In post writing conferences, she would delve on the exact reason why we wrote a particular thought or idea, unmasking us all, and almost always there would be a funny confession or a struggle for language then a quick funny rejoinder from her. In parting, she would deliver a poem and my favourite was "BLOW, BLOW, THY WINTER WIND" every word of which she enunciated and emoted perfectly.

The most eccentric teacher I had in university was the late Dr Cesar Adib Majul, who taught me and classmates, the Muqaddimah. He would now and then interspersed his lessons with surah recitations. Then in a booming voice and with an intent of startling us from our wandering thoughts or in an appreciation of a good discussion, would say "KUN FAYAQUN" to illustrate the beauty and majesty of Creation and of course celebrate the genius of Ibn Khaldun.

So, when you find yourself wondering how you started reading or writing or enjoying learning, then you have got to thank your teachers - really - seriously.

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