Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Teacher Who Inspires

Yes, we are talking about teachers. No, we are not talking about my long lost dream of becoming one nor the deep down feeling of frustration with teachers in general. Instead, I want to talk about a particular teacher; a teacher who inspires.

Soon, it will be the third anniversary of the Black February, the reason why this very blog shuts down for a year. For those who don't know what is Black February is, don't worry, a tribute post will be posted soon. Let's just go with the fact that I messed up big time.

After Black February, I was stripped off everything I worked hard for in school, most particularly, the respect from teachers. Most of the teachers abandoned me and send me looks of disgust. I have no idea what kind of stories they heard but that doesn't matter. The trip to the Staff Room is hell. I was...well, drowning in pure despair.

But noticed that I used the word 'most' rather than 'all'. There are teachers who stood by me, teacher who understood me and what I'm trying to do. There is a certain Indian Chemistry teacher who gave me a 99 on a Chemistry exam and spoke about my 'Highest Score in the History of SMSS' in almost every other class he taught though in reality, I didn't get 99. I flipped through my 60/60 Paper 2 two years after and saw 3 errors which he cross out and ignored. It was intentional. And there are several other and one of them is no one than my Form 5 Physics teacher.

Physics is not really my cup of tea, Chemistry was (But ironically, I took neither for my degree.) but the Physics lab was my favorite non-classroom spot next to the Band Room. The reason being is this particular Physics teacher. A little bit of background before she became my Physics teacher, she was the Team Manager for Team Vector Magnum, my Formula One in School Team. Working with her was an experience to behold and I had fun but I really got close to her after Black February.

She is not your run-of-the-mill teacher who teaches and go. She is the kind of teacher who sincerely wants to know her student. She seek a personal connection with the student because she believed that would help them and help her to teach better. She believes that every student is unique. Bright students should be allowed to explore their interest and fly above the syllabus and become the very best. Weak students should be assisted without discrimination from the bright students. She believes in batch politics (and was quite well-versed in it). She doesn't mind students flocking her lab because she loves talking and knowing her students beyond the book and whiteboard.

During Black February, I remembered she told me:

"Mereka mungkin tak faham pandangan awak, sebab tu mereka tak suka. Tapi tak mengapa, saya percaya awak punya pandangan boleh mengubah dunia. Awak kan ada otak gila-gila sikit. Tu la kekuatan awak. Patut guna elok-elok."

"They might not understand your views, that's why they don't like it. But that's alright because I believe that your views can change the world. You have a crazy mind. That's your strength. Utilize it properly."

As a student neck deep in the pits of despair and depression, do you know how valuable that advice was. Maybe she couldn't remember it but I did. Maybe the above quote is terribly misquoted but I won't forget how it feels. I feel...inspired as if there is hope despite the stares and slight. 

And I worked hard. I accepted the facts that my views are not the view of the world but my views are my views alone. I foster and cherish that. I accepted the fact that I am unique and I should not remove that from myself. True, I kept silent after Black February but in secret, I learn more and further improve my views and conviction. Soon, I was at a stage that I couldn't believe possible if Black February didn't happen. And now...here I am, writing this 10 000 miles away from Malaysia in a distant country.

She inspired me and I'm not the only one. She has a lot of fans, all for a positive reason. She is there for the student. She don't judge, she just listens. She will give advice when advice is needed, she will help when help is needed. She was seen as a popularist by other teachers because of her popularity but she wasn't. She was also not a favorite among the higher ups if I'm not mistaken. But see, she just cares...genuinely. And because of that, she is popular. Love given will get love in return.

Yesterday, she posted a tweet:

"Officially, I am no longer a teacher in SMSS"

I was shocked beyond words. I expected a controversy or something but it turns out that she got promoted to an Assistant Director in the Ministry of Education (Maybe be wrong. I don't get government departments)
And her twitter is flooded by her students, expressing sadness about her transfer. She has become such an important figure to them, what will they do without her?

And that, my readers, is the sign that you have changed someone's life. Dear teacher Aini, if you are reading this (which you most probably will), trust me, you have changed my life. Without you, I may not climb this high. Many other students will agree with me. You made a difference. You achieved what many other teachers tried but didn't succeed: You inspired us and you changed our life. YOU MADE A DIFFERENCE.

So yeah, maybe SMSS don't really deserve someone like you. Maybe a larger scope of people need you. SMSS can't be selfish, we may hold you back for much too long. So go on, teacher. Be great. Inspire. That is your strength. Utilize it. This is the same advice you gave me three years ago and here I am returning that advice back.

Good luck teacher and with all my knightly heart and soul,

I salute you

Thank you


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