Looking back on 30 years of teaching


AS I reach my 30th year in teaching, I look back and reflect on the journey, I undertook in 1988 when I decided to become an educator. The year before that I was working in an industry as a company trainer and it provided me with in-depth exposure on dealing with different co-workers. I decided that teaching was my calling.

The first 10 years of my teaching life was an uphill struggle. But taking part in extreme co-curricular activities and the college choir brought friends with open mindedness together. It was a great learning and discovery journey. My Kelab Kembara lecturer always told us, “Your life depends on your friend and vice versa” especially when we were performing activities like abseiling or climbing down steep cliffs and we needed to let down ropes for our friends. One wrong move, and the life of the other would be in danger.

College trained teachers in secondary schools handled many extra-curricular activities and accompanied students for outside school events such as sports, games, camping and more. And I told myself that education is a life-long journey and went on to study for my other academic and professional qualifications.

During my first postgraduate journey in Universiti Malaya, I had great “gurus” who reminded me that doing research for one’s postgraduate studies and writing it should not end there itself.

The research should reach out to the public who will become the end receivers of what is suggested in the findings. One professor told me, “Do not allow your thesis to collect dust in the library but ensure that it makes others in the education line think about the weaknesses in our education system and are inspired to do their own research”.

I am happy that I had such inspiring lecturers in my life who told me that people cannot take away our skills and expertise.

As I reach the end of my 30th year of teaching, I look forward to one more decade before I retire. I feel the excitement of sharing my knowledge, skills and wisdom to all those who cross my academic path. Teaching is a divine calling.

It gives me great satisfaction to see my students succeed in life, and pass on the ripple effect to others who cross their lives. Being an educator in the current digital era is a great challenge but that is what excites me most. Let’s go for it, educators!

DR VISHALACHE BALAKRISHNAN

Director, Centre for Research in International and Comparative Education

Universiti Malaya

Kuala Lumpur

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