Teaching is not all books and exams

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 June, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 June, 2000, 12:00am

Can you imagine a 16-year- old girl not having any friends or interests, not going anywhere except to the library? This behaviour is very unlike that of today's teenagers. But that is how one of my students in Form Five behaved.

She seemed strange in the eyes of her classmates because she never talked to anybody. She always sat by herself in a seat next to the window.

I do not know whether she liked it that way or because others want her to do so.

As her English teacher I did not notice Helen (not her real name) during the first few lessons. I only noticed her when students were asked to form themselves into groups for project work. I found she had been left out. Nobody was willing to have her in their group.

I asked Helen why she did not join any group and she said bluntly: 'I don't want to work with others. I can do the project myself!' I asked her to stay behind after the lesson.

During the lunch break, when all students had gone out, I asked her why she had behaved like that. Helen was reluctant to talk to me in the beginning.

After talking to her for a while, I realised that she seldom talked to others, even members of her family. Helen had a brother and a sister but they seldom talked to each other. They did not even have dinner together, not to mention any other family activities.

To my surprise, she did not even know what her parents did. There was actually no communication in Helen's family. She had no friends to talk to. The only place she visited after lessons was the school library.

I am sad that there are still so many 'Helens' in our school system despite all the teamwork or group work that is promoted nowadays.

But why did not anybody reach out to her and tell her there was more to life than just books and exams? I was later told that Helen's class teachers in Form Two and Form Three had tried to counsel her several times but without success.

She is still the same girl who is in a world of her own.

She never reaches out to others nor does anybody try to talk to her. Now that Helen is in Form Five, is it be too late to help her or is it better late than never? I can see that Helen does want to share her feelings with others but just does not have a way of doing it.

She does not know how to start a conversation with others and is afraid of being rejected.

As a teacher, I know that if I spend more time with Helen, I may make a breakthrough. But how can I make time when we still have hundreds of other students to attend to, not to mention non-teaching duties.

Teachers nowadays always find themselves running out of a very important resource - time.

The teachers' desks are piled up with numerous books and notes, unmarked and marked papers and many forms and records waiting to be filled in.

But are there other things that are more important and urgent than paperwork? How about spending some time with children who so urgently need our care and advice? Think about how the world of our students could change if we could just spare a few more minutes chatting to them.

Maybe you do not see the need for having a personal touch with your students, but I believe that if we can peep into their hearts, we will be able to make a world of a difference.

I believe that children are our future, Lead them well and let them lead the way.

Show them all the beauty they possess inside, Give them a sense of pride . . .

This is what I have learned from the song The Greatest Love of All .

It inspires me and I know that there is more to a teacher's work than just to teach students how to read and write.

Ms Leung is vice-principal at the PLK 1983 Board of Directors' College in Tsing Yi Graphic: GG31GYO