Wed, Apr 14, 2010
The Straits Times
Teachers deserve Facebook fan pages

By Jonathan Liautrakul

YOUTHS may best remember their school life by the co-curricular activities they participated in, the friendships forged, and the canteen food eaten.

Then there are the teachers, who arguably leave the most indelible impression.

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But while we thrive from their guidance long after leaving school, we often credit ourselves for our achievements and fail to realise that it was the teachers who imbued us with confidence and spurred our innovation in the first place.

An old Chinese proverb goes: Remember the source of the water from which you drank.

Recently, that point was brought home to me when Brother Paul Rogers, the principal of Catholic Junior College, stepped down as the last religious figure helming a Catholic school.

His influence shines through in what students say of him.

On his Facebook page, candid conversations with students on his 'wall' and heart-warming graduation photographs testify to his deep influence.

I met Brother Paul during the provisional admission exercise in 2006.

Although I had to leave the college because I did not make the cut, he continued to keep in touch with me and encouraged me through my pre-university years.

Character building and lifelong learning are the goals of such inspiring educators, who make school lessons more than just lecture notes and assembly talks.

When I attended Catholic High School, with its tough-going expectations of academic and character excellence, another educator influenced me.

Mr Chow Lin Meow made a difference to my interest in Chinese, by incorporating Chinese culture into his explanations of idioms during Higher Chinese classes.

Mrs Mary Choy and Madam Lee Siew Leng of Millennia Institute, where I took my A levels, also come to mind.

As an economics teacher, Mrs Choy utilised current affairs and personal anecdotes to clarify theories, bringing out the human side of economic concepts.

She willingly coached and counselled me. Her constant advice to 'stop doubting yourself' pulled me through my A levels and got me a place in university.

Madam Lee, who came across as a strict and unbending literature teacher, was inspirational when it came to tackling literary canon.

With her no-nonsense approach, King Lear had never been such an eye-opener. Under her tutelage, my Es turned into As - nothing short of a miracle.

No doubt contributions like theirs deserve more than a passing mention.

Why not use social networking websites like Facebook to create fan pages for them? Or discussion threads about their approach to teaching different subjects?

Such feedback, applied to our daily lives, reminds us how far we have come because of them.

One student put it best, quoting American historian Henry Brooks Adams on Brother Paul's Facebook wall: 'A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.'

The writer, 20, has a place to read arts and social sciences at the National University of Singapore (thanks to his teachers).

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

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