"Education is the journey from darkness and into the light."--Allan Bloom
Of all my role models in the world, there are some athletes, relatives, and then of course some previous teachers of mine. Learning should never be just cornered into a classroom, but my favorite teachers and professors were the combination of captivating, relatable, and enlightening. The most memorable lessons they've taught me are not from the textbook but from the heart.
Education is more than just textbooks, homework, mindless standardized tests, and lectures. We learn to be better people too, not just how to calculate the area of a cylinder with a radius of five point five inches and a height of eight inches. I don't think teachers are exempt from learning, either, because I'm learning equally as much as I did as a student.
If I said that my students teach me nothing, I would be lying. From the moment I started as an English teacher here, I've learned something new everyday. An older group of students of mine taught me the other day about the viral song, PPAP. My younger kids demonstrated their worst behavior, and I learned how to combat twelve elementary aged children who don't want to cooperate in any capacity. And of course, many students have reminded me that a simple word of encouragement is all you need to motivate someone, put a smile on their face, or even maybe get a giggle out of your shyest students.
I love my students, my new home in Taichung, and even some of the new challenges I've had to combat. Learning Mandarin Chinese is no easy task, and the process of memorizing and becoming somewhat functional in the language reminds me of a time when I was younger and more or less illiterate.
My parents would read signs to me, tell me what they said, and I would long for the day I could actually read them on my own. That's how I feel now, as I learn day by day different characters and expressions. Nothing worth completing or having comes easy, alas I know that much like my students who have spent sometimes years learning a language I was born surrounded by, it takes time. All good things come in time.
But the world is my classroom, quite naturally, as everyday I am exposed to the language: signs, menus, my students, my friends, the bus, the radio, TV shows, and so much more. While I have graduated college, my pace of learning feels the same. I hope I never stop learning, even if it's as simple as being reminded of the necessities of connecting with the world around you.
I am a teacher, but I am also a student. There's something to learn everyday out there and sometimes it comes from a six year old who just wants to give you a hug and skip their test, other times it comes from the new friend you made on the bus who gave you persimmons when she heard you coughing and sick.
Like my students who entered their first English classroom completely in the dark, wondering what on earth their teacher was saying, I, too, came to Taiwan with very little knowledge of what to expect and what everything I tried to read meant. But all the same, I'm starting to have the light bulb moments and the "aha!" confidence boosts as I look around. It's progress, as little as it is, and even though my students don't realize it, we're on the same path. We're all learning and finding our own answers on this journey.
Published by Marie Soukup