Many years ago, we used to pass around these cute and pretty looking autograph books to our classmates, telling them to write down their particulars and often we will write in our favourite teachers and who our best friends were. The teacher who made a difference in my life is definitely not my favourite teacher, but her impact on me is so great that I will never forget her.
“Here stand a girl who may seem to have a great future. But you are destroying your own. How stupid can you be? Why can’t you listen to the simple instructions? The rest could follow, why not you? Are you dumb or what?”
I always remembered that deeply. For the first time, me as a ten-year-old girl understand what is humiliation, feeling stupid and that started a strong emotion. I have never felt something that strong, my emotions and hatred then, was unbelievable. I didn’t break into tears, I just stood there, right in front of the class, right in front of 40 pairs of eyes, taking into every single thing. The rest show no sympathy, I was on my own. I felt stupid.
“Can’t you stop degrading yourself? Do whatever you are told. Don’t try to be a smart alec.”
Seriously, I was really thinking, what did I do wrong. It is not that I cheat in a test, not that I stole from someone, not that I play a prank on someone. And there she goes, throwing my exercise book out of the class, and continue to humiliate me while ordering me to retrieve the book. It is also through this, I learnt what is bias-ness, what is authority and what is hatred. This teacher has made a difference in my life.
It was a long story about how there was a slight rearrangement in the class that some of us had to have our mother tongue lessons in other class. We appeared in this class like strangers. Most teachers favour the intelligent ones, we all knew that. Within that four of us, there is this girl, who did extremely well in that subject. I just happened to be the weakest. We often have to practise the Chinese characters by writing it out repeatedly, usually 10 times, filling up 2 lines. But this girl, always submit her exercise book writing the Chinese characters 6 times, filling up 2 lines. She will always leave a blank after every character which we don’t usually do. Surprisingly, the teacher marked it just like how she marked the rest.
That week, it was considered the most busy week of the year, because we have tests on that week. Frankly, I never thought of taking that shortcut, until one of the 4 of us suggested doing it. And indeed, we all did it that way. No other people got humiliated in front of everyone but me. Not a single word to them. I was not given a split second to explain. This teacher that humiliated me, impact me greatly.
At the tender age of ten, I learnt that bias-ness existed everywhere. And one more important thing, good friends are hard to get. I was not defeated by the teacher, neither did I chose the easiest method. I can easily tell my mother or the principal (I just know the principal personally because I stayed in school for long hours for six years.) this incident and she will be deal with, and I can get my revenge. But I chose the hard way.
I swallowed all the humiliation.
From just a mere passing grade in that subject, I got promoted to the next level with an A. No, it is not because the teacher is good. Because, I did not listen at all in class, I refused to do all her assignments and even there are times when I skipped her lessons. I did all the self study that will enable me to get an A, to prove to her that I am NOT stupid. I wanted to show her so badly that I am not stupid. I never had any passion for that subject, but after this incident, I have developed a passion for it, through hatred.
Yes, I got an A because I hate her. I know that she knew that I hated her. She totally gave up on me as her student, not being bothered by me not handing up assignments. But my performance did improve gradually. Never was there once, she mentioned a single word about me. I did not want that recognition from her at all. I once thought to slam my result slip right in front of her face, in front of that 40 over pairs of cold stare, shouting at her. I never did. Because I know, there is no point doing so, for I have prove myself for once in my life.
This teacher did not favours me at all, neither was I the teacher’s pet. Yes, we have a mutual hatred. But she is indeed the one that made a difference in my life. I won’t have learnt many life skills if not for her, I won’t have know so many things.
Putting the issue aside, sometimes, I really imagine myself returning to that school, finding that teacher. I pondered for once, what I wanted to tell her.
“I was that student that you humiliated in front of the class in 2000. It may seems like a vague incident more than 9 years ago, but I remembered it and took it to heart. I will not forget how you humiliated me and will never forgive you for anything. You may not have that intention, but as a teacher, you have successfully bring me down to the maximum. You have successfully cause me to really think that I was stupid. You are that one, that make me learnt what bias-ness is and how to swallow the humiliation. You are the one that is being bias, and for that, you have failed terribly as an educator. You have no right to continue to nurture our future generations for you had chose to single me out and tell me everything you have told me before. Thank you for humiliating me and I will hope that you retire soon and stop destroying the future of the young ones.”
And that was a teacher that made a difference in my life.