Tuesday, July 02, 2013

I'm Reminded

Jeremy the two-headed dinosaur.
It's been four weeks since I started teaching Inter class again. The last time I taught in that class (full time) was 2009.

Inter was the first class I taught when I merrily jumped onto the Sunday School teachers' bandwagon in 2007. At that time, it was the perfect choice for me - the goofy new teacher facing up to young impressionable minds. Back then the class was located at the balcony outside, separated from all the other classes and thus giving us a world of our own that was occasionally interrupted by extreme heat or the odd "TILAM TILAM" guy. Sometimes the lessons went well, sometimes not so, but there were always greater life lessons in store.

As is often the case when one looks back, those were much simpler times. I taught without thinking too much, never forgetting to have fun without being overly worried about meeting set objectives. Sure, there were times things got random and awkward but it was always all good the following week. I was humbled, challenged and pestered like never before but through it all, I loved the idea of us against the rest of the world, huddled and laughing together before they graduated to the cooler Younger Youth class.

But then I left for 3 and a half years. The first year was a quest to 'rescue' the dying Older Youth class - an ultimately doomed mission fraught with disappointment and discouragement. For the first time, I was confronted with the ugly truth that sometimes, a good lesson alone isn't enough.

The following year, I took a break for six months before suddenly being a 'substitute' teacher in Inter for another six months. It was fun returning to the class for a while, but I never really got over my identity as a random replacement guy.

As 2012 dawned, I decided to venture into teaching the Youth class for the first time (surprise, surprise!). And how nice, most of my former students from Inter were in the same class - all grown up. But as the months wore on, I sensed their former enthusiasm replaced with lingering jadedness and skepticism. Gone were the eager babes happy with simple truths; now those who sat before me were disinterested youngsters who knew enough.

Through the year, I taught some of my best lessons but deep inside the passion was dying out. A teacher's joy stems from seeing his students grow through the lessons. There was none to be found here. I pray that within their minds they were secretly transformed, but on the outside it never showed.

Slowly, surely, I was losing hope. Why, I wondered? Was it a lack of effort on my part? Or a sign of the times? Or simply the culmination of years of things gone wrong?

Mid-2013, circumstances arose to lead me back to Inter. At that moment, it was just another assignment for me - the next chapter in my Sunday School teaching journey. Never did I expect rediscovering my first love.

"Are you done, class?" I checked on their progress in drawing their own cartoon character - an illustration of creation in Genesis.

"Not yet lah, teacher!"

"Ish...faster lah, so slow! You think this is art class ah? I give you all two more minutes only kay."

Two minutes later, the boys and girls met Jeremy the Two-Headed Dinosaur with a chorus of oooohs.

I was home.

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