The walls may have ears, but at least we still have our classrooms.
It came and went, just as all things. They chose to take care of things in the most practical, careful, business-minded way. I wish they had given more thought to the persons involved, act out of kindness and grace to settle the matter, not out of eagerness to bring it to a clean close.
This week has been an emotionally-gruelling week. Politics are becoming so real in the staffroom that I cannot close a blind eye to things that are happening to my friends, and pretend that everything is fine and dandy. I used to think that we could choose to be ignorant, but increasingly it has become clear that there is hardly a middle ground. When I choose to be ignorant and not take a stand pro-actively, I already choose subservience. Subservience is not submission. I think there are moments when we need to submit; but submitting to authority is far from being subservient and passive.
More and more I realise that to some people, you are either standing on the left or the right. As much as I wish I could remain unnoticed and sit on the fence until I gained my spirit and confidence, being silent just automatically means you are in agreement. And perhaps with more experience in this institution, there are more and more things I cannot stand in agreement with and say nothing about.
More than once this week, my convictions and beliefs have been challenged. I realise that the institution is a panopticon, and trust is a precious word you whisper. Will I be quiet and voiceless if somebody perpetuates the very beliefs and convictions I disagree with? If someone were to condescend your students or misjudge your colleagues, and you just keep quiet. What would that make me?
I shared honestly with a friend this afternoon that if someone asked me to “think about the reason why you joined teaching”, my reason for signing that dotted line is because it granted me access to a scholarship for my university degree. I would be self-reliant, have an allowance and the opportunity for a paid trip overseas for student exchange. Given my familial circumstances, it was logical and practical and a blessing for me. Joining the profession held no beautiful ideals or promises for me.
But our conversation gave me a glimpse of what my dream was when I first started out. I believed in Literature as an educational tool to reach out to the hearts and minds of young people, equip them with the necessary communication competencies to express themselves, to understand life, analyse situations, read people, and have a moral sensitivity towards the world. Education is a platform to develop people of character and intellect, and what better way to do so, than through literature, the subject of life?
I remember as I recounted my secondary and junior college student days, what Literature meant to me and my peers. It inspired, gave meaning and empowered us to use words and language to do the same. If that was my starting point… where was I now?
With that, I pray and plan for the next step.
There are many lessons from this week. Place your trust in a firm foundation; and man is hardly a sure one. Be careful who you trust, because man always fails, but God does not. Is it against your conscience and goodwill to keep quiet when something is being said or done against your convictions and beliefs? If it is, then when and how will you stand up for it; or will you be content letting it be eroded over time?