Sun, Sep 06, 2009
The Straits Times
Good teachers and frightening ones

I REFER to Joven Lim's letter on Tuesday, 'Student's lament'.

I am 61 years old, and I met some of my former teachers six weeks ago.

Teachers shape our lives, and we remember them even if half a century may pass. We remember their personalities vividly, even what they wore and their idiosyncrasies, as if it was yesterday.

During our surprise meeting, after about half a century, one of my favourite teachers, who is 80 years old, looked the same to me. At one point, she sat on a rocking chair and a few of us sat around her and reminisced about the good old times. We are still her little ones, she said. I was always eyeing her lovely saris, longing to have one as a souvenir. There was a lot of kissing and hugging when we said our goodbyes. She now lives in India.

My bad memory is of a maths teacher who used a big ruler and a protractor to hit my head. She called us 'goblogs', pinched and pulled our ears in Primary 6. Often I had to skip recess as maths was daily and before recess. I cried every day, almost. The following year, I dropped maths and hated maths all my life. Maths, to me, has this image of a teacher with a big ruler and a protractor and punishments. I did not see this teacher ever again after I left school.

What happened 50 years ago is etched deeply in my mind, so I urge all teachers to remember that the little ones will grow up. The good and bad memories of school will remain with them the rest of their life.

Tan Eng Lian (Ms)

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

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