‘Learn to say thank you, please’

Schools play an important role in moulding the character of a person. While parents are role models at home, teachers take on the responsibility of setting a good example for some 30 to 40 students when they are in school.

Besides imparting knowledge and wisdom, it is the duty of the teacher to instil moral values such as courtesy and politeness in their charges as these are integral to building character and soft skills.

Simple things like saying please, sorry and thank you play an important role in character-building and communication.

In many instances, I have noticed these virtues to be wanting in schools.

Students not wishing teachers when they walk past them is the norm these days. Students walking in groups no longer give way to teachers when they pass by. Sadly, it is the teachers who have to step aside for them.

I have also noticed that the word “sorry” is rarely used nowadays. When you admit your mistake and apologise, it is not a sign of weakness.

Equating an apology with admitting defeat is bad for character-building. As humans, we all make mistakes. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Do not let ego get in the way if you want to build friendships. Saying sorry is a reflection of your humility.

The word “please” is also uncommon in this day and age. Even if one is holding a high post, being polite is key to getting things moving. Being arrogant and authoritative does not pay off. Using the word “please” enhances your reputation and makes people want to help you.

Saying “thank you” is also an increasingly rare trait. I’ve noticed that some students find it difficult to express gratitude to the principal when they are invited onto the stage to receive a prize.

There is no denying that they deserve the prize for their various achievements but they must be reminded that had it not been for the guidance and coaching from teachers, they may not have achieved success. Showing gratitude is not only courteous and polite, but it is also the respectful thing to do.

As we recently celebrated Teachers Day on May 16, I would like to invite students to pay tribute to their teachers, past and present.

As a retired educator, I, too, would love to take this opportunity to pen a few words of gratitude to my own teacher, Master H.C. Quah, who taught me Geography way back in 1970/71 at SM Sultan Abu Bakar in Kuantan, Pahang.

Master Quah was a tall and lanky bespectacled guy who had everything at his fingertips as far as Geography was concerned. When he taught, it was always in an unorthodox and creative manner.

His mellifluous voice was so captivating that it kept the class of 35 students engrossed for the entire 40-minute lesson. Time flew by without us realising it. That speaks volumes of his teaching style.

The formation of volcanoes, geysers, glaciers and many other natural features were explained in a very simple and lighthearted manner – which made the subject enjoyable and easy for us to understand.

Master Quah was a charismatic and passionate Geography teacher who made us feel as if we were experiencing all the natural happenings across the world. I always looked forward to his classes. It was one of the highlights of my week at school.

As my classroom was very close to the staffroom, I always kept a close watch to see if I could spot his BQ 6021 white Opel Kadett to know if he was present for the day.

Master Quah was a very easy-going and approachable figure much adored by all. While he may not remember me, I believe it is not too late for me to pay tribute to a teacher I will always hold dear.



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