Sunday, April 24, 2011

Moving Along With Time, Changing Roles...

7 years ago, I started my own version of 'homeschooling' with my boy. Along with 2 other kids, and expanded by one more later on, the group remained together for 5 years. While they were in lower secondary, I would meet with them two nights a week, some nights would turn to 3-4 hour sessions. I taught them History, Geography, English... and whatever subjects that they might be having difficulty with, depending on each child. Each kid has his/her own unique strengths and weaknesses and each one posed a challenge of their own, and so I added my own twist here and there. 8)

Then as they entered their upper secondary years, the twice weekly sessions became one, in part because there were more tuitions to attend and also the subjects were beyond me.

I began as a teacher to them; the 13-year-olds they were back then, growing up they were, trying to make sense of their changing world with their marginal minds, rebelling sometimes when things around them don't make sense to them and so on. There were difficult moments, as well as light hearted times. There were times when tears were the only thing I got... But I watched them through their rites of passage.

As they grew, our conversations would sometimes to drift to other things... of cars, life, relationships, school, teachers... just about anything under the sun that you would expect teenagers to talk about. The role of teaching them began to shift with the years. I still taught and imparted knowledge but over the years, as they grew and when F5 ended, some moved on.....

I thought that was the end of the group... But 7 years on... I still have remnants of that group, with additional kids to replace the ones who left. I marvel at how my role has changed. I'm done with my teaching of subject matter with them actually but I am deeply honoured that they still want to meet and talk. Our sessions have become sessions of sharing life's experiences.. a word of counsel here and there, bits of reminders, some guidance, encouragement.... and it's not just a one way thing. I've been encouraged and also humbled by my 7 years with them, the hope that each is given and the promise of what each can be. And that where there is a will, there is always a way... just that sometimes the way might be full of potholes and rubbles, bumpy at times but still a race which is possible to run and complete.

I've had other kids wandered into my life. Kids who drop in for short sessions such as brainstorming for language competitions, quickie and extended lessons... my life has been made richer by them too. Some of my friends say that one must teach in a premier or selected schools if one wants to teach 'smart' kids. I think it's not necessary. I think it's a matter of how willing one is to welcome them into our lives.

Moving along with time, changing roles.... I realize that I put on many hats over time.... teacher, counsellor, mentor, friend.... and I am glad to be given the chance.

And I am brought back to the lessons I took as a child about the story of Jesus.... a teacher, counsellor, mentor and friend to His disciples. To be all those we need to constantly challenge and remind ourselves that it is a calling.... that sometimes it comes with a price but I've learned that it's a calling with great reward... and it's not necessarily monetary.

As for those kids.... their teen escapades would probably be more than enough to fill a few books!

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