This Teachers’ DAy, A Teacher Gives Tribute to Her Teacher
23-year-old Miss Tan Xuan Hong, is a Chinese and Physical Education school teacher with a bubbly charisma. For the last 10 years, she has been involved in volunteer work. She has also been teaching in an all-boys secondary school the last two years. Her tireless passion in youth development is one of the biggest qualities which her colleagues, peers and students remember her by.
This Teachers’ Day, Xuan Hong sits down with us to talk about her inspirations, her aspirations, and the best teacher she never had.
Halogen360 (H360): This is probably a question you’ve heard 1000 times. Why did you choose teaching as a career?
Xuan Hong (XH): Well, I love kids, I love working with kids, and I love the Chinese language. If you look around you now, you’d know that homegrown Chinese teachers are hard to come by. So I thought – hey, let’s break out of the mold.
H360: Tell us about a challenge you’ve faced.
XH: I used to teach an amazing class of Primary six students. Academically, they were weak, and their energy levels were insane and I had a hard time winning them over. But during one of the Teachers’ Days, my boys wanted to boycott the Best Teacher Awards because I wasn’t nominated. Those are one of the moments when you know your efforts have paid off.
H360: Are there any lessons that you wish you had learned from your teachers when you were young?
XH: Hm, this is a tough one! I was a real stubborn learner and missed out on a lot! (laughs) But I do wish that my teachers could have taught me how to protect myself, my self-esteem and my emotional well-being. It’s a pity that we are so focussed on breeding clever minds, not so much on healthy ones.
A kid comes up to us and says he doesn’t have friends, and we dismiss it as a phase. A kid comes up and asks us big philosophical questions, and we tell her to go outside and play with her toys. We patronise kids all the time. So yes, I do wish emotional development was something I could’ve learnt in school, and that’s what I want to do for my students.
“I was a real stubborn learner and missed out on a lot! (laughs) But I do wish that my teachers could have taught me how to protect myself, my self-esteem and my emotional well-being. It’s a pity that we are so focussed on breeding clever minds, not so much on healthy ones.” –Tan Xuan Hong, Teacher
H360: Who was the most influential teacher in your life?
XH: When I was in Sec 4, I had the fortune to have my life changed by a young teacher called Miss Ho. She only took our class for Physical Education (PE), and I never missed the chance to skip her lessons. For our prelims, my math score was 12/100. On the paper, Miss Ho wrote an entire essay of encouragement. And she didn’t even teach that subject! As my friends passed my paper around in amusement, I was annoyed — annoyed that she couldn’t mind her own business.
Another time, I sprained my ankle outside of school during PE. I remember throwing a huge tantrum at Miss Ho while sitting there in pain. Instead of backing off, she picked me up and piggybacked me 800 metres. That’s when my attitude towards her changed. Before I graduated, she said she’d love to catch up with me again. It never happened. After ‘O’ levels, Miss Ho died in a car crash during her honeymoon trip. I passed my math, and till today, I’ve kept the prelim exam script with me. I never once skipped PE in JC. She was even the reason why I became a PE teacher.
You know what? Seven years later, my ex- classmates and I still wonder where her urn is. The most amazing teachers influence you way after they quietly leave your side.—
Article by Lin Xue Hu