I made my decision earlier last month to retire from teaching, and after some thought (and getting back the teaching feedback), I’m seriously reconsidering that decision.
I had made that decision because of 1 very simple reason. I had given up hope of changing the system. I had voiced my displeasure at many things that the school were doing that I felt was detrimental to the students’ learning, to no avail.
I had told the profs, that I felt that their papers were badly set, that it focuses more on forcing students to learn a specific language’s rules, rather than learning how to solve problems using code, whichever language it might be, without much success. I had told the profs, that the module was called CS1010 Programming Methodology, not Programming in C, which fell on deaf ears.
I had created an intellectual culture in my class, which was completely destroyed right on the week before mid terms, because the past year papers were released, and the students (rightly so) had decided that it would be much better for their grades to game the system by mugging all the esoteric syntax in order to score higher marks in exam.
And I was given some feedback from a prof (who shall remain unnamed) that I should give my students answers to the discussion groups.
In addition to that, there has been rampant misuse of technology in order to make education ‘scalable’.
I had, for all intents and purposes, given up all hope, of fixing the system. Then came the teaching feedback.
I was pleased to see that I scored way above the department/faculty average for almost every single criteria, some as high as 0.6+ more than the department average, which is higher than the faculty average.
And that, reminded me of one quote from the movie, The Emperor’s Club.
The worth of a life is not determined by a single failure or a solitary success.
Similarly, while I could not changed the system, I am confident that me teaching, had resulted in at least some of my students having a better environment to learn, to explore, and to learn that they can learn by themselves, instead of having to take a module to learn every single thing.
As educators, we are not here to segregate the student population, to give elite education to one group, and ignore the other group. As educators, we have a moral obligation to teach everyone who comes to us, everyone who wants to learn. We have a moral obligation to help everyone who gives a damn about what we teach. We are lacking teachers who believe in that.
Nor are we here to fill the students with knowledge. We are here to ignite their passions, to make them believe, and to make them dream, so that they can one day go beyond where we have stood.
Not to force them to mug and mug and mug and get rid of whatever creativity and passion that they have in their hearts. We are now seeing education reduced to a set of KPI’s and SOP’s. Is that what education really is about?
I’ve decided to come back out of retirement and continue the fight for better education.
A movie that inspired me to teach. The Emperor’s Club. All educators should watch it.
To end off Grace Fu style
“When I made the decision to teach in 2011, pay was not a key factor. Ability to make a difference, the opportunity to change lives, and to help the supposedly weaker students were. The disruption to my (way higher) income from freelance work, or even part time work, was definitely something that I did not care about.
I had some ground to believe that I could make a change in the education system even though I earned less than peanuts. If the balance is tilted further in the future, it will make it harder for any one considering a teaching career.”