I went to bed feeling sad; sad at the misconception some people have developed in respect of teaching as a profession.
Teachers are an awesome gift from God; I don’t joke with them at all.
That is why once a while, when I visit my hometown, I pay Ms. Mateko, my Class Five Teacher who is now on pension, a visit. Of course, I don’t leave her empty handed. I always part with “something small” each time I visit.
She made me who I am. At a time when some of our teachers thought I would amount to nothing just because I battled with Mathematics as a subject, this woman would give me hope and every reason to look to the future with determination.
She would use her own life’s experiences to comfort and embolden me. She was a real blessing to many of my mates and I.
There are many other teachers like Ms. Mateko and we need to make them happy and know that their labours are paying off. It is the likes of this favourite teacher of mine that makes me encourage Naa Atswei to become a teacher. She’s been telling me she will be a teacher each time I ask her what she would like to become in future.
Last night we had a friend visiting from Konongo. She actually spent the night with us. Whilst chatting with Naa Atswei, she asked what most adults would usually ask children – what would you like to be in future?
Smiling from molar to molar, my five-year-old answered, “a teeeeeeecha”. “A teacher?” Our friend asked with a frown. Why would you want to be a teacher?” She asked. My innocent-looking child yelled, “because I want to be like Teacher Maam Bea”. I felt so proud of her and started to smile at my toddler”.
Teacher Maam Bea is one of the patient, caring, intelligent, wingless angels of a teacher in her school. I personally admire that lady so much. I want to believe it’s her talent – teaching.
She is able to condescend to the level of Naa’s age to explain complex topics to her. I hear she wants to pursue a Masters Degree and needs funding. If I get a few more parents to support this just course, I shall duly support her to pursue this higher learning she desires to have.
“Ablah, are you smiling? Your daughter wants to be a teacher and you’re happy about it? What?” She went on and on about why I shouldn’t encourage Naa Atswei to pursue her dream.
“Ablah, teaching in Ghana isn’t rewarding at all. To think that a teacher walked 42 kilometres to class to teach every day and was rewarded with a standing fan as a mark of appreciation by the authorities on Independence Day! At least, give him a bicycle or a motorbike or something more valuable than a fan? A fan? Aagh! For what? So that when he walks for some kilometres whenever he’s trekking to school, he would switch it on in midair to fan away the sweat on his face and arms, and clean the dust on his feet? How?”
Constance went on and on trying to convince us that teaching wasn’t rewarding. Then she went ahead to tell us about a female teacher who had no arms, but who taught so well. She said she had watched a news story about that teacher on the evening of 6th March, on one of the television stations.
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According to her, one question she asked herself was, “why are teachers like this woman, not being rewarded for their hard work? She said the woman was shown writing on a white board.
She had inserted the marker into her mouth, and was writing with her mouth. “The woman writes with her toes too and was shown actually teaching a pupil without arms to write with his toes”, she said. That is a person who needs to be rewarded. But has she been publicised in anyway? No,” she said with a smirk.
“Ablah, you can ask anyone whether what I’m about to say is true or false – some teachers, on Independence Day, were awarded food flasks, for their extraordinary contribution to rural education. Tears filled my eyes when I heard about these awards”, she said. “Food flasks? Agh, let’s get real,” she continued.
Turning to Atswei who was seated next to her in the sofa she said, “Naa, teaching is not good. If anyone asks you what you want to be in future tell them you want to be a doctor or a lawyer okay?”
What Constance said to Naa didn’t amuse me at all. The fact that a group of teachers, for all their efforts and sacrifices, have been given food flasks and one fan, does not mean the profession is not good? Is teaching not a calling? If that is the gift one was endowed with to make a living on earth, would it really matter if one was awarded for a talent-pursuance or not? After all, how many times have we not heard that the teacher’s reward is in heaven?
“Naa, auntie is only joking okay? You will teach like Teacher Maam Bea one day”, I said to her and sent her to bed. Before she fell into deep sleep, I told her she would be a great teacher in future; she would change many lives positively through her teaching and make many great.
I don’t quite know whether she even understood certain things I said in my persuasive speech to her, but I know I have fed her spirit with those good thoughts. She will be a teacher in future.
And it will amaze you to know that our friend who was trying to convince my toddler from becoming a teacher in future is a trained teacher; very talented, but an embittered one too. Hmmm. I keep telling her that her reward is in heaven but she doesn’t understand.