Apple, Tree, Family

Sometimes, you just want your family to stay together.

Boy: Daddy, why do you have to go...?
Daddy: Because I have to, boy.
Boy: But why do you have to...??
Daddy: I don't know. I guess.. it's part of His plan.
Boy: I don't want you to go!!
Daddy: Please don't act like this. Everyone has to go... someday.
Boy: Not everyone has to...!!

Accepting the fact that everyone will have to face the painful reality sooner or later ... is not an easy task to do.

Daddy: Be strong, my son... I know you can handle this.
Boy: No...!!! This is so wrong!!! Why is everyone doing nothing!? Why don't you guys stop daddy!?
Big Sis: Boy, stop it!! You are just making it worse!!
Boy: Why can't all of us stay together at home...? Why does daddy have to go too?? Like mommy and baby girl! Why?? (crying)
Big Sis: He told you already! He has to! Don't be such a wuss!
Big Bro: Hey, boy, hey. Look at me. Look at me! (looking into his baby brother's teary eyes) You'll get through this... okay?

Words will not be enough. And no matter how hard you try to ignore it, the fact is there - one day we all have to leave.

Boy: But mommy already left..! She took baby girl with her! Now daddy too!?
Big Bro: Because mommy did what she had to do...
Boy: Stop telling me that everyone has to do this and that! Who made that rule!?
Big Sis: Oh God! What is wrong with you, boy!??
Daddy: Calm down, everyone...

It will get worse. 

Big Sis: How can I calm down... !?? It's just a damn report card day!! Baby girl was okay when mommy said she wanted to meet the teacher! Why can't you be the same?? Why..!??
Big Bro: Yeah, boy... why? Is there anything you didn't tell us?
Daddy: Boy...?

You will face the music.

Boy: Because... I failed in Science, Mathematics and... four other subjects that I don't know how to pronounce.
Big Sis: I knew it!
Big Bro: Oh boy... (shaking his head)
Daddy: Wait... did you say you failed in Mathematics?

But the night is darkest before the dawn...

Boy: Yeah...
Daddy: That's my boy!!!

In the end, life is not as hard as you imagine. Tehehee.

Strength That Lies Within

I am currently teaching at International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). And I want to share a story.

We know that everybody has his or her own routine, every day. Some wake up early in the morning in order to work and hope that tomorrow they will live a better life. While some wake up early in the morning just to go to class and learn, and wish that whatever they get today can and shall be useful tomorrow. In the end, they too, will hope to live a better life like anyone else.

If you are here at IIUM, you will see all sorts of people from all over the world. Many of them come to Malaysia because they want to pursue their dreams. However, some of them claim that they have no choice but to be here. And a few of them feel that they don't even belong here. Especially when they have to go to a certain department where they have to learn a certain language before they are allowed to enter their targeted course. This is where I come in. As one of the teachers responsible to help this group of students, I spend five days a week being in that department, watching them. Sometimes I teach them, but I will say that most of the time, I learn from them.

Don't you agree if I say that we all love to complain? It's like whenever we have the chance to complain, we will happily do it. You don't like this, I don't like that. We will talk and proficiently use the language that we are supposed to learn when we do this. We may not be fluent or accurate in the language, but when we say what we have in mind, all the grammatical rules of the language will suddenly become familiar. We know them like the back of our hand.

But then I look closer. And I see the 50 to 60 year-old students in my class. I look at them. I watch them. I wonder.

They could sit back and relax, while watching movies and listening to songs. They could laugh at all the jokes their sons tell. They could taste all the delicious food their daughters prepare on the dining table. And they could wake up every morning in the arms of a loving partner. They could have all those at home, in their respective country. In this range of age, everything would seem perfect if they could do or have it with the warmth of a family.

But they don't have it.

Instead, they travel a thousand miles away from home, just to be here. Most of us would think, "I am old already, why should I bother going to another country just to have my own scroll?" But these people, they see from a mysterious angle. An angle that perhaps younger people like us don't know it exists. That is why despite their bones are cracking and their health is deteriorating, they come to class to listen and talk, to read and write, and to learn. They could have all the dreams any old man and woman would die to have, but they choose this - something that they can leave behind. They choose knowledge.

So who are we to complain that studying sucks when these people are willing to leave their family and do it here? Who are we to give up doing the homework when these people stay in the class doing it, with both cheeks full of tears because their sons are lying weak on a hospital bed just a continent away from them? Who are we to curse when we don't understand a word in the notes we are reading the night before the exams, when these people miss their daughter's wedding because they need to stay for the finals?

We may not realize it, but the reason we always see things negatively is because we always have a choice. We are in our own comfort zone. But these people, they live every day on what they have on the day. It may not be enough, but they will make do. In order to seek the knowledge they want, they live and struggle for it. And they tell me that there is no such a thing called 'too late to learn'. They show me how strong they are... and that whatever strength they have that makes them this powerful, I can have that too.

We all can.

Award Winning Teachers

Assalamualaikum and good morning. Thank you for being here today. Okay, I won't take much longer and without further ado I will just go into the issue for today's meeting. There's only one issue, anyway, which is regarding the SPM Straight As workshop that we'll be having later this month. How many students do we plan on having, Teacher Dabest?

Excellent Teacher Dabest:
180 students, sir.

180? Okay, sounds manageable. Have you decided on which students you are planning to bring in to the workshop or are you planning to make it open for everyone and let students decide whether to join?

Excellent Teacher Dabest:
I have decided to bring in students from the first three classes from Form Four and Five respectively, sir.

Other Teachers:

Teacher Nobadey:
Wait, the first three classes? Only the first three classes? Why don't we make it open for everyone?

Excellent Teacher Dabest:
Because we all know that students from the first three classes will really use this chance to improve themselves. They are excellent students, motivated and more reliable.

Teacher Nobadey:
Yes, I agree with that, but what about students from other classes?

Excellent Teacher Dabest:
There won't be any students from other classes. They will not be interested to join.

Teacher Nobadey:
What if there ARE students from other classes who want to join and improve themselves?

Excellent Teacher Dabest:
Well, even if they are interested, the chances for them to score As are not as good as those students from the top classes.

Teacher Nobadey:
Oh, so you're saying that if they are not capable of scoring an A in the exam, they are not allowed to join a workshop and improve their grades? If that's what you mean, then these students WILL NEVER score an A, ever.

Excellent Teacher Dabest:
Look, let me tell you something. Students from the first three classes are capable to handle all the pressure around them. They can handle mountains of homework, workshops and extra classes. They can handle being scolded by teachers for not being able to finish their homework on time. They don't skip classes!

Teacher Nobadey:
And that is why we need to give this chance to other students who are not from the top classes as well. Because they weren't really involved in the classroom, so maybe here they will get involved or at least learn from the top students.

Excellent Teacher Dabest:
You are not getting the point. The probability for top students to learn something and improve from this workshop is way higher than those from other classes. So it is better for us to bet on them.

Teacher Nobadey:
And ignore the others?

Excellent Teacher Dabest:
Look, you're new here. You are a new teacher. While I am an award-winning teacher. I have been here for years. I am the best. I have produced straight-A students more than any other teachers here. I have given thousands of exercises, extra classes, and homework to thousands of students. I have always taught the top students and I know what they are capable of. I have used methods that no other teachers are willing to do. I think I know if I am making a bad decision, but I am not sure about you.

Err... calm down. Let's have a cup of tea, everyone.

Teacher Nobadey:
Have you taught students from weaker classes?

Excellent Teacher Dabest:
Excuse me?

Teacher Nobadey:
The reason why all those styles of yours worked on those students is because you taught good students. Like you said, they are motivated. They really care about their performance and they fight for better grades. So no matter how difficult or ridiculous your methods are, they will just deal with them. Because they don't want anything to happen and prevent them from getting the best marks and grades possible.

Excellent Teacher Dabest:
What are you trying to say?

Teacher Nobadey:
Unlike these teachers around you, they have to deal with weaker students. Students who are not motivated. Students who don't care about their marks and grades. Students who are ready to skip a class the moment it gets boring or too difficult. Because of that, these so called not-the-best teachers have to use different methods. Because they have to start from the very beginning - which is to motivate these students. To make them want to learn. To keep them interested. Your job is half done because you get good students, which I'm not saying it's easy - you might face difficulties as well, but these teachers... they have more to deal with.

Excellent Teacher Dabest:

Teacher Nobadey:
So what I'm trying to say is, just because your students always score a lot of As all the time, it does not mean you're the best teacher. What about those teachers who care more about their students than their results? What about those teachers who stay up late at night because their students call and cry because of family problems? What about those teachers who don't give mountains of homework and extra classes because they know that their students can't keep up? I believe that when a weak student wants to remain in the class when the teacher is around - that teacher has done a good job. When a weak student wants to remain in the class even when the teacher is NOT around - that teacher has done a great job. Scoring 20 As is not the only way for you to measure a teacher's success. Keeping them away from wasting time doing meaningless stuff, making them stay in class and learn step by step, and giving them hope and belief when they don't score - these count too. And trust me, while you are busy counting the amount of exercises you have yet to give to your students, these teachers bang their head against the wall trying to come up with activities just to make sure their less motivated students learn something.

Excellent Teacher Dabest:

Teacher Nobadey:
So when you say you know what your top students are capable of, we know what our weak students are capable of, too. And they deserve every chance you believe your top students deserve. So with all due respect, make it open for everyone.


Black's Dream

Happy 2012, everyone.

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