The Transformative Effect of Exceptional Teachers (1)

Teachers have a demanding profession. They are given a huge responsibility. In fact, one could argue that teaching is the most important profession because it’s the one that facilitates the flowering of other professions and vocations.
And, yet, many teachers are not adequately provided with the resources that would help them excel at their work. They are even poorly paid. And, this is highly de-motivating; it results in poor performance on the part of some teachers. How does this affect our children? In a lot of cases, it would also be poor performance, right? As a society, we can only reap what we sow into our education sector.
Some teachers use the poor state of our education system as an excuse to just do the little they can, some even do less. Fortunately, there are some who are proactive and who recognise that teaching is a calling. They appreciate the fact that they can help in transforming lives, positively. Thus, they go beyond the status quo’s inadequacies, to give their best, and, the results can be astonishing. They are exceptional guides.
It’s fitting that I share one or two personal experiences which serve to illustrate how some go beyond the call of duty. I used to be a dunce in mathematics. But, within a few months I became an A student, and even started teaching science students mathematics. What happened?
Let’s start from the beginning so that we can have a proper context. I was not really interested in arithmetic as a child. I was more interested in drawing, painting, and reading stories. There was something cryptic and illogical about some arithmetic operations. How does one borrow from zero, for example? At the age of fourteen, the highest score I have ever had in maths was 34 percent!
I attended an exceptional Catholic secondary school, for boys. A few of the teachers were whites, Indians, and, some were from other African countries.


My first mathematics teacher when I was fourteen was a super-quiet woman. She’d come into the class, face the blackboard and continue with her computations. It was almost as if she was paid to teach the blackboard. And, we were happy with that, because it meant that we could focus on reading the comics on our laps. She would go through the motions, then leave. Some boys did not even bother attending the class…
To be continued tomorrow.