there’s a social stigma associated with being a teacher. no, maybe i shouldnt put it that way cos there’s a negative connotation to that. what i mean to say is that there is a certain expectation society has on a teacher, i feel. perhaps that teachers teach kids and therefore they should be perfect, in a way (according to what the regional society deems as perfect).
i kinda find it highly stressful to introduce myself as a teacher in OZ Land, but its getting increasingly difficult cos ppl start to ask abt how old ppl are and if you are older, then the consequential question is what you have been doing between your undergrad years and postgrad year.
a teacher generally is expected to be decently dressed, well mannered, mature in thinking.
so when a kid (23 yrs old) asks if i can pose in a bikini for his friend who wants to send it as a postcard to another friend, i say, “why would i want to do that, for someone who wants to show off to his friend that he can get girls to pose in bikini?”
he replies, “well, he’s not trying to show off, his friend just likes good looking girls. so, why not?”
well, i could, (and maybe it might be fun for some girls), but i have expectations of myself and i have expectations of how i present myself. and, my students have expectations of how their ex-teacher presents herself. and so do their parents.
i reckon it IS my personal life and i can do whatever i want. and quite frankly, it is none of my students’/parents’ business what i do with myself outside of school hours, but, being a teacher does mean something to me. and if i have expectations of my students’ behaviour, then i expect myself to be a role model, if not, at least not an embarrassment.
im not saying that being in a bikini is wrong. it isnt. but the context in this case is just plain demeaning. what kind of a girl would do suck a thing for a stranger? would my students want ‘that kind of a girl’ to be their teacher? would ‘that kind of a girl’ have any rights to give advice to student on behaviour?
so the guy and i continue chatting (cos its a really long walk to the busstop – it took us 1.25hrs of brisk walking. ps: thats how sucky the bus services are here.), and the conversation led to “what i did before i started on my postgrad” and i confessed that i was a teacher. and suddenly he stopped trying to convince me to pose. perhaps he realised where my principles came from. perhaps he thought teachers were conservative. i dont know. but he said, “you seem to be very narrow minded” and used his hand to cover the sides of his eyes. maybe. but i just wouldnt allow myself to be treated in such a manner – for strangers to fantasize over because i put myself in such a position.
i think anywhere in society, anywhere in the world, teachers carry alot of value. teachers are not perfect. i know teachers who smoke, i know those who drink to get drunk, teachers with personal anger management issues and i suppose there are teachers who have affairs and other vices. teachers were once teenagers too, and like all teenagers, must have had to go through a phase in their lives where they had to discover who they were, make mistakes, learn and eventually grow. but, like i said, while the personal life of teachers is not the business of anyone in school, i still believe that the best form of education comes in the form of being a mentor and a guide. these experiences makes a person less narrow minded and it helps in educating the younger generation. and i believe all the teachers who stay as teachers have their own values systems which they believe is true. and those who dont, dont stay in the service for long (that of course is just a subset, cos there are many other reasons why ppl leave).
im glad i find value in being a teacher. and through all the confusion i had at the beginning of this year: (ie: “i was a teacher” vs “i am a teacher”), i feel that a teacher is not called a teacher by profession. a teacher is just someone who can educate the younger generation and guide them to be better people as they grow older. perhaps even teach them values that they may use to formulate their own principles. who in turn will influence others. i might not be a teacher next time, but, the fact that i was once a teacher means that i do have expectations of myself, ethically and morally.
my principles, well, took me a long time to formulate (and i got to thank the person who brought me through it) but, i know what i am and i know who i am. and being a teacher just reinforced what i want to be remembered as.
i am a teacher.