“If you walk the footsteps of a stranger
You’ll learn things you never knew you never knew”
‘Colors of the Wind’ is a song from the movie ‘Pocahontas’ that all our past lessons have been revolving around. A beautiful song that a village girl sings to the uppity city boy, it explores the connection humans have with nature and questions whether urbanization has really benefitted mankind. If urbanization results in us no longer appreciating Mother Nature for what it is truly is, but rather only measuring things around us by how much they are worth in money, then how far can we truly say that urbanization has benefited us?
More than that, it also encourages others to look at things from a broader perspective. I found the above quote incredibly meaningful: all too often we merely look at things from our own narrow point of view and fail to consider the other aspects as well as from others’ points of view. Yet if we just learn to ‘walk in the footsteps of a stranger’, we can learn so much more!
For the past few days, we taught our students – according to Singapore’s education system they are Secondary Three – this song. I must say, that through these few short hours of interaction with the students, I have really learnt so much about them! For the very first lesson, we were rather nervous at the start as we had no idea how the students would be like. This was especially so after listening to some other teachers tell us ‘horror stories’ about their English standard, which was ‘surprisingly bad’ and that some of them were unable to even differentiate A to Z. This really worried us greatly; after all, if they were unable to differentiate A to Z, how were we to teach them an entire English song!
Furthermore, we were also slightly worried that the class might be quite noisy and hard to manage. These were students ranging from age 15 all the way to 20, mostly older than me. If we were unable to gain respect from these students, we would be completely unable to teach well.
However later, thankfully, our worries were all unfounded. Firstly, the English teacher in charge of that class sat in, which was a great help seeing how all the students were extremely fearful of her (and her rod)! Although we were unable to grab the attention of all the students – a few out of fifty over students were bound to drift off – most of them listened attentively and tried their best to follow us as we taught them the song.
One of the most fulfilling parts of being a teacher is that whenever we walk around the school, all the students – ranging from 5 years old all the way until 20 years old – would nod to us and say “Good Morning Teacher” in Chinese. Just three short words make my day. Although teaching the class everyday is very tiring and causes our voices to go hoarse, it still feels good.
It feels very satisfying to see the students try their best to sing an English song, although they have completely no idea how to read the words. It feels very satisfying to see your efforts being acknowledged by just a small nod from the students. And most of all, it feels very satisfying to know that the efforts you’re putting in are paying off and that the students are improving.
The days we’ve been here have been rather packed and tiring, with us having to either prepare lessons or teach classes every other hour. However it has definitely been a very fulfilling experience; I’m looking forward to teach the English song again to another class later!