Teaching Life – 002
Several weeks ago, I tutored my 10-year-old student at her house. She’s very talkative, and on this day she randomly asked me when was the last time I cried. I did not answer directly, but I admitted that I might perhaps cry when watching a sad movie or reading a sad story…or even a touching story (such as this one).
She then said that it was not acceptable, because crying is annoying. She explained that she had not cried for many years, and every time she was sad, she simply became angry or thought about happy things. She also told me about a boy in her class who cried when someone stole his pencil. According to her, she smacked that boy for crying over a very small reason. (I think that the boy will probably get bullied a lot because people think he’s weak.)
So, the impression you give other people is very important. That reminds me of another class from several weeks back. From time to time, I substitute at a private school for adults called “SGIC.” Amanda, one of the regular teachers at SGIC, once lent me her TYCP binder so that I could study the materials for their TYCP course. One day, I gave my Grade 5 student, Jason, a test in class. During that test, I took out the TYCP binder to study it – so that I could formulate a plan on how to teach that program. Then I put the binder down to focus on Jason. However, he saw the binder and he saw the words “St. George” (because it’s an SGIC binder and the “SG” in SGIC stands for “St. George.”).
He immediately assumed “St. George” was the same as the famous private school in Vancouver, St. George’s. (Many rich parents like to send their children to St. George’s private school – which is near Dunbar and West 29th in Vancouver West – because it has good reputation.)
So, Jason asked me which grades I taught at “St. George’s.”
I didn’t correct him. I just answered, “My students are a lot older than you.” My answer was just my students were “older” – which was a true statement. Anyway, Jason incorrectly assumed I taught high school students at “St. George’s.” He started thinking I was rich because I taught at this prestigious private school.
I changed the topic and I might have said, “Let’s do a unit on commas now,” or something to that effect. And then every time when I have a class with him, he would ask me about “St. George’s.” Every time I would say, “My students are fine,” and then change the subject.
Was this a “lie”? Maybe we can call it a “white lie.” He seemed very impressed that I was from some prestigious high school. But even if he finds out the truth in the future, it’s not going to affect him.
The point of this story about Jason isn’t about how I lie to my students. The point is perception is important. If you’re a man, you’re expected not to cry. If you work at a “prestigious” place, you’re more respected.
That’s the unfortunate reality of life, of society. I mean, my job is to inspire these kids, and if the 10-year-old girl thinks I cry, then that’s not going to inspire much confidence in her. And if the boy Jason thinks I’m rich, maybe that’ll inspire him.
That’s just the unfortunate reality of life, of society… That’s just too bad…