MOSTof us have one thing in common.
A large part of our formative years were probably spent in the company of adults who were passionately driven - and yes, contractually bound - to impart knowledge to perpetually distracted children. And that’s no mean feat!
This Teacher’s Day, we pay homage to three of the many types of teachers that roamed the school halls, chalked up a storm on blackboards, and left an indelible impression on us all.
The Big Friendly Guru
Everyone loves a jolly cikgu. You just know when their class is in session - it’s when you hear kids howling in laughter from a block away.
These personalities draw from a seemingly endless wellspring of energy, and this description largely applies (but is not limited) to Physical Education teachers.
These track-clad types are naturally - and some say unfairly - beloved for being in charge of school-sanctioned playtime.
BFGs are more likely to see how something should be a “bonus mark” due to an error in the test question itself, which can be the difference between a fail and a passing grade.
When class parties roll around, this teacher’s arrival usually receives the most fervent welcome.
They have mastered the art of “just one more bite” of homemade mee hoon dishes so as to keep their students happy.
Another key trait is their belief in the greater good, which can include a commitment to closing an eye to (very) minor trespasses such as in-class snacking.
After all, it’s an open secret that the lab assistant’s thriving side business of crunchy tidbits can be key towards students paying sustained attention in Physics.
You know the sort - your handwriting looked its best in their exercise books.
They commanded full attention from the class, even if their subject was the very last period before school was out.
The Perfectionists are most likely to induce the “malaikat lalu” (angels passing by) phenomenon - a sudden and organic pin-drop silence that occurs right before they appear at the door - among otherwise noisy classmates.
And save the excuses - whether you’ve got tuition classes or co-curricular commitments, they know just the right amount of homework to dole out.
Failure to perform well in their subject is likely to cause the most amount of distress … and a certain relief in the knowledge that they will do everything in their power to help you succeed.
Their exact marking style is an honest indicator of your actual performance, and any request from help on your end will see them going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure you make it through.
Case in point: I remember struggling with Additional Mathematics, which was taught in Bahasa Malaysia at the time.
One teacher took extra time to explain its key concepts in English instead, which caused something to click upstairs and finally produced decent results.
It takes a tremendous amount of effort to teach the same syllabus in an exciting way, year in and year out.
This is where the Storyteller excels. Their zest for their work can bring even the dustiest textbooks to life - in their hands, every dry chapter is as exciting as the best entertainment to be had.
Do you remember lovingly drawn maps in Geography, with fascinating retellings of how each region came to be?
Perhaps your Storyteller regaled the class with wry comments and personal observations on the passage of History, or provided an endless supply of mnemonics to remember the seven colours of the rainbow, and later, the periodic table of the elements in Chemistry.
Either way, their stories stuck around long after test papers were filled out, the way the best and truest tales often do.
And across these types, one things remains the same - their dedication to their work probably once inspired us to list ‘teacher’ among the things we want to be “When I Grow Up”.
But regardless of whether we actually entered the noble profession, knowledge transfers happen in all our roles to some degree, whether you’re on the receiving end of much needed mentoring or guiding a newbie through their responsibilities.
This Teacher’s Day, consider - what kind of teacher do you want to be to those around you?
Happy Teacher’s Day to our Malaysian educators! Do your favourite teachers fit in the categories above, or do they carve out a niche of their own? Share your fondest memory in the comments below.