Friday, April 30, 2010

Why Judah Can’t Teach

(In which it’s harder when you hide.)


“You have a really good job. Look. We have the same age but I’m still a student while you’re already working. But frankly speaking, I don’t think I can stand your job.”

I looked away from my computer and looked up to Judah. He was wearing his black long sleeved polo and he stood like an instructor lecturing a child. His turned his back to the light so his face was darker. But he wasn’t regretful or apologetic or even fearful that his comment might be taken negatively. He has always expressed his opinions with abandon. He knew he can always tell me what he thinks. I wasn’t offended. But of course I wanted him to explain himself. So I waited for him to continue.

“Well, teaching is a gorgeous job. But I think I can’t do it.”

“Do what? Teach?” I couldn’t wait to understand what his point is.

“I can’t deal with losing special people every time the classes end.”

I gave out a sigh that told him I understood. He sat on his chair and thought for a moment. Then he spoke again.

“Master,” he said; his face now serious with curiosity. His habit of addressing me in this very inappropriate manner started as a joke. It was inappropriate because we were not in an old Oriental society and because I am not even close to being a master. ”I think it’s hard when you met good friends and then you had to say goodbye to them, right? And I think it’s not good when you’re used to seeing people go. Like that is just normal. I don’t like that. So that’s why I can’t be a teacher.”

I took deep breaths. I have tried several times to evade this topic but it is always brought up when students are leaving. One of my previous students, Jean, also pointed out that getting used to this situation makes one’s heart harder. But now, I believe I just have to defend an aspect of my profession.

“Well, it is hard. But this is what we do. It’s hard to see students leave but that also means they have learned. And they have to go out and use what they’ve learned. That’s better than having them stuck. Just like you, I also feel sad and I don’t like this situation too. But teachers couldn’t be lugubrious because there are people waiting for us. There are people like you waiting to be taught. I cannot face the next student with gloominess over your absence. I have to deal with him or her with a glad face and anticipation that this will be a good experience for both of us – learner and instructor. Now that’s harder. There is even no time for us to be sad.”

It’s his turn to contemplate. Then he nodded.