Trisha Reloaded

Dedicated to Trisha, as always. Dedicated also to L, my source of inspiration, and the reason why I choose to see the bright side of teaching.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Book meme

Got this from Tym's blog and I was very excited to do this meme. Like Tym, I'm not waiting for anyone to tag me. So here goes:

1. One book you have read more than once

Cry, The Beloved Country, by Alan Paton. I don’t usually read books more than once and so the only reason why this book had the dubious honour was because it was my Literature text. Still, I didn’t complain then cos it was an excellent book, opening my eyes to the realities of apartheid, a phenomenon that was still alien to a wide-eyed fifteen year old as I was then.

2. One book you would want on a desert island

The Bible. My life manual. When you’re on a desert island, there’s no better time to contemplate about your life, undistracted by the concerns of the world.

3. One book that made you laugh

Inconceivable by Ben Elton. It was my first introduction to Ben Elton’s books and his brand of humour and I must say, I’ve been a fan of his books ever since and have proceeded to devour virtually all of his works. Any couple trying for a baby should read this book, to take the pressure and stress off trying to make the miracle of procreation happen. Any couple who don’t want a baby yet should read it too, to remind you that the creation of life is a mysterious thing, and not something that you can will to happen when you want it.

4. One book that made you cry

Borrowed Time by Paul Monette. My virgin foray into alternative literature. The author’s description of the death of his partner is immensely heart-wrenching and I pratically had to stop reading at one point because I felt my heart could not take the pain of waiting for the inevitable to happen. I don't think I've ever read a book that dealt with the loss of a loved one so eloquently and poignantly.

5. One book you wish you had written

This is a tough one. But the closest would be Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. I wish I could articulate, as brilliantly as Lewis did, a perfectly logical explanation of a belief in God. I’m a great admirer of Lewis’ sharp and yet down-to-earth view of spirituality. Reading Mere Christianity is like having a good friend dissect the truth for you, step by step, elucidating the layers of truth that you never saw before, never intimidating or intruding, and in the end, you find yourself agreeing with the author, even though you may have started out being cynical.

6. One book you wish had never been written

This will probably get me some flak from Rick Warren’s fans but I do feel his The Purpose-Driven Life is all hype and little substance. Not that I disagree with what he wrote. It’s just that, to me, TPDL is to spiritual fodder, what French fries is to nutrition. Hence I find it amazing that something that is so banal, and not very thought provoking, can be a best-seller, spawning a string of sequels like The Purpose-Driven Church, and journals, tapes and bible study materials to accompany TPDL. Many churches advocate the use of TPDL for group study, like it’s the newfound miracle antidote to spiritual awakening. I would think there’s more spiritual substance from the Narnia Chronicles than TPDL!

7. One book you are currently reading

When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro. First time I’m reading Ishiguro and it’s so far so good.

8. One book you have been meaning to read

The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain. I have been attracted to Twain’s humour after reading The Diary of Adam and Eve. I’m not sure if some of his lengthier works contain the same type of humour. I picked up The Prince and the Pauper from the condemned books collection in my school library (in librarian parlance, a ‘condemned book’ is one that is too old or torn to be kept and hence is marked for destruction). That anyone can condemn Mark Twain’s work is utterly sacrilegious so I rescued it from the bin and it’s been sitting nicely on my bookshelf, waiting for me to resurrect the soul within its pages.

9. One book that changed your life

Disappointment with God by Philip Yancey. I read this after I lost my baby Trisha. The title described my sentiments then exactly. The book addresses the age-old question of why there is suffering in this world and offers more than the usual pat answers that well-meaning Christians offered me at one of the most trying periods of my life. Thanks to Yancey’s book, I emerged from the ordeal a much stronger person. I still don’t have all the answers but I know my faith has not weakened despite the disappointment in my life.

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There's really no need to tag anyone for this. If you're a book lover, you would want to do this meme. So go on!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Duracell teacher

All this spotlight on new pay schemes for teachers, promotional prospects..etc makes me wonder if I can be a Duracell Teacher, you know, the type that can last and last...

A colleague asked me yesterday, "So, how long more can you teach?" after she told me about friends of hers who were thinking of quitting the profession after they had finished their 3-year bond. This was also after an NIE lecturer told us that 1 in 5 teachers quit within the first 5 years of teaching. Now that's something we don't read about in the press releases!

My reply to her is this, "I don't know. I'm happy where I am. I can see a purpose behind the madness. I can still be used by God to do His work in the school. But who knows when the battery will be flat and I'm running on empty?"

Who knows indeed? But for now, I'm as Duracell as I can be.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Occupational hazard

One of the occupational hazards of being a teacher is that you continue behaving like a teacher, even when you are not in school, even when it's the school holidays.

Like 2 days ago, when I was buying lunch home, dressed like your typical HDB auntie - oversized t-shirt and shorts, flip-flops and my hands full with packets of wanton noodles and my daughter in tow, I passed by the neighbourhood MacDonalds and saw a bunch of primary school kids in school uniform, gleefully pouring a cup of soft drink with ice, onto Ronald MacDonald's lap.

I could have walked on by, my noodles were getting soggy anyway. But I, kaypoh teacher, had to choose that moment, not just to glare at the offending kids, but to actually stop, and with finger pointing, called the culprit over, and gave an open air lecture on irresponsibility and the consequences of ruining public property. The kids were properly shocked at being caught and reprimanded in public. And there must be something in my voice that told them not to feign innocence, for I managed to have the culprit clean up Ronald's lap, after threatening the kids with a visit to their school's discipline master. I could have even dropped some names (for I knew some of the key people from their school) to send the fear of God into their hearts, but I reigned myself in. The petrified kids muttered apologies to me and I walked off, head held high, soggy noddles notwithstanding.

What has happened to me? What has teaching done to me? I am now correcting other people's kids in public? I, who used to think parents should discipline their own kids before they criticise others'? If you see me doing this to your kid, would you tell me to mind my own business?