Giving Thanks for 2013

And with a blink of an eye, the academic year 2013 has come to a close. There are still school camps, competitions, projects and supplementary lessons that require students to come to school, but for the next two months, I do not need to stand before 40 students, being conscious of my every word and action, and always reflective and aware of how I can persuade, inspire, perform, teach, and discipline children.

This year has been a greater struggle that the year(s) before. I find myself more critical and cynical of the school management, the education system, and the policies and ‘codes of conduct’ that prescribe our actions and behaviour, and more significantly, our attitudes. Being critical is good, but cynicism is something that we would all want to get rid of because it causes you to shrivel up inside dry.

I am also definitely trying to get a firm grip on my spiritual life. Many people would say it is impossible to effect change or fight the system, or achieve a healthy work-life balance yada yada, but I refuse to give in to that belief because we are promised that “[we] can do all things through Christ who gives [us] strength”, and because our Lord has not failed us in his promises, I can not betray Him like that and be someone “of little faith”.

But God is good. And for all the distraught and heartache this year, my form class has been a dear. There is a sense of “homecoming” when I walk into that classroom, and when you see how some of them have grown or matured throughout the year, it certainly warms your heart. We had a mini class celebration with certificates, awards and prizes, birthday presents and personalised cards, as well as a birthday cake. A group of students presented Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” (which I failed to record, apart from the last 3 seconds when the class was clapping for them). The talent show was definitely a lot more meaningful than the Talent Show at the level meeting.

My co-form and I realised that our class is a reflection of us, their form teachers. None of us are overtly affectionate and we hardly express our affection and gratitude openly. It has been an entire year, but other than our class photographs, we did not rush to have other class photographs taken. Even when my class chairperson (who I demoted three weeks ago) said that he would like us to be his form teachers next year, he had to do so with a certain swagger, and punctuate it with a, “I really mean it! From the bottom of my heart!” and even then, my co-form and I did not quite know how to react to that… rather unadulteratedly blunt and sweet expression of affection.

Then I realised that even when my class does not overtly show their appreciation or love through words or gifts or cheers, they do so through other means. Some students practised for hours and sang “I’m Yours”, some students say “hi” each time you walk past the class, some students do their part by cleaning the class, others change into the class tee-shirt during class celebrations, others stand around and offer you assistance when you need help to carry things. Some wait until everyone has left the classroom before they approach you for a photograph.

And being able to work with these children to see them develop and grow this year, has made me really excited to see them grow and mature more next year. If we see with our hearts and not just with our sight, we might just be able to realise how beautiful and pleasant the world actually is. How full of love the world might be, in all its various forms and strands.

And with this, I can only thank my God for my class of students who allowed me  a glimpse of the childlike to see the good in the world.

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