During lunch, EE and I were talking about our growing up years. Being brought up by protective parents, both of us had a sheltered childhood. We attended girl schools and mingled with other girls from similar backgrounds.
While waiting for our A level results, we did a short stint as relief teachers in government schools. It was an eye opening experience for us.... nothing like the mission schools that we have attended.
We learned that about a quarter of the students in a class came from divorced families. Some had abusive parents and they often came to school with cane marks all over their bodies. Many had financial difficulties. Every month, many could not hand up the school fees despite reminders. A handful of students in the class were older than their peers. They were more interested in making rude remarks and off-coloured jokes during lessons. Discipline was clearly lacking. Some students simply strolled out of the classroom while lessons were going on. PE lessons were a nightmare. Our students were running around like monkeys in the field while other teachers had theirs under control.
The teaching experience really made us grow up overnight. At 18, we had to learn how to educate kids that were several years younger than us. We were not given much guidance from the other teachers. It was a struggle dealing with our charges. We worked extra hard but never quite knew if we were doing things right.
That was many years ago. Today, we hope the situation has changed for the better. We certainly hope so.