Turning Disasters Into Blessings
Experiences Versus Lessons
Today, I write how a student struggles to get the best of what he can from a not-so-good experience with his teachers. For sometime, he thinks his teachers are uncaring because of experiences that are not worth sharing with you. On the other hand, I think these experiences count as much as the lessons that can be derived from it. In another time, he thinks teachers are inspiration for life. It is what makes this hub enticing, I hope it will.
Encounter in Math
Lloyd always sits just near the front rows in his class because this is what alphabetical order urges him to do and maintain. Seated with his classmate Rammil who always plays and pinches droplets of saliva over his lower lip, he always wonders how he makes every Math equation correctly done as he becomes a class favorite of their teacher. Silently pinching every drop of his fluid, he inches away with the answers and finds his way to the board for the solution requested by the teacher. Consequently, the Math teacher always recognizes right answers and of course creates an air of inferiority among the members of the class who are not raising their hands and not given the chance to give their answers.
Envy is all over. Rammil is one object of envy. He is very good; Lloyd is not. He is sinking inside.
For sometime, Lloyd thinks Math is so boring he can not follow the instructions of the teacher; Math is so difficult that numbers can be so confusing and problems to be solved are in English that he can hardly understand them; and Math is mentally challenging that every bit of it is a heavy load he has to carry because he has the difficulty understanding numbers and others related to it.
What have really closed his eyes and mind to the thought of studying Math?
Back in his elementary years, Math has been easy for him because his teachers slowly explain the procedure. He can always follow because teachers properly guide them to get the answers right and get the right answers. He even remembers he gets the chance of joining a team event in Math representing their school and winning a place in the district competition. Of course, he gets an award during the graduation day, a ribbon, a medal and a certificate. What a triple treat to celebrate his being good in Math.
Why is appreciation given only to those who give correct answers? Why can those giving incorrect ones not be appreciated and yet get the bigger share of demeaning comments? Are these not telling valid reasons for teachers to improve on their instructional delivery and see themselves through the eyes of the students in front of them?
But Lloyd thinks he will always be good in Math.
As he reaches first year high school, he meets classmates who are better than he is in Math. In fact, he feels so shy to recite and show his answers fearful that he will be embarrassed after because they are so good and he is so slow. He has learned to accept that he is slow, but not dull as not to understand really the four fundamental operations.
Like the way he always does, coming to the Math class in second year high school to study integers and algebraic expressions carry his feet backward. But the thought of failing the subject makes it more grave because however he looks and pays attention to the teacher, he really cannot follow. Can that be reason for him to put his feet forward and try by all means understand the challenge of learning what he understands to be so difficult?
All the while, his ears and mind are drummed by careless words hurled by the teacher to those who are not very good. That's the reason why Lloyd has to settle silently pretending to understand, not even taking the nerve to ask because the thought of asking can become another form of verbal abuse to him. And to date, teachers, he thinks, must do things to express care and to build student's confidence but not in this story. This particular teacher collapses what little confidence the students have mustered.
Lloyd always copies any assignment given on his notebook and will always end up every time he comes to class unprepared because of the same reasons. Add to that the inferiority that he feels, and that asking classmates for help, being laughed at and called with not-so-good labels are additional sad experiences and stories he does not want happen to him again. He will just have to keep silent all the time, trying to cling wherever he can to avoid the peering eyes of the Math teacher so he will not be called to go to the board for his solution to the problem or give the answer orally. He can only nod his head in saying surrender silently for he cannot say anything.
A week before the periodical examination, his Math teacher inspects their notebooks and finds his notebook very neat and clean, and yet not having any preparation. What can he do? His parents are home and nobody to ask and consult for his preparation. Friends are not even bent to help. What are friends for? Yes. It is the first time the Math teacher does the checking of notebooks and gets his way to hurl hurting words Lloyd cannot take face to face. His tears glide down his face so profusely, his lips are silenced by the words he hear, his feet stand steady like a pole. He feels reduced to lowest term.
He thinks of dropping out, feels insulted and blamed for his inadequacy. Can he really be blamed for his incompetence?
What holds him is the thought that his parents will get angry with him because they think he is doing very good in class. He does not want to be subjected to another sad experience like that of his Math teacher. He has already gotten a big doze of them.
High school days pass and he is about to graduate. Thinking of his sad story in Math, he decides to get an Engineering course as his sweet revenge. His promise is to become a better person, to become an engineer. His mother continues supporting his studies even if she has to vend food daily. This continues even after his determination to pursue an engineering course is sealed with much conviction because he thinks his family deserves a better life.
Lloyd finds himself feasting on numbers, at times being pestered by the thought that he is a high school failure in Math. He makes it a point to devote a big slice of his time at home to study and consult his favorite Math teacher in elementary. He cries in between uncertain answers and difficult bout with numbers, retires to bed with books lying open over his chest, and wakens with his mother's voice driving away the chickens that gather at their doorstep every morning to have their fill.
What keeps him inspired is the strong commitment of his mother to let him stay in school and make all ends meet everyday thru vending viands such as the local 'pinangat' in the neighborhood. This continues until today when his elder brother and sister are trying to pursue their individual courses especially that he is already earning something as part of his 'return of investment' to his family.
But remembering Rammil, he thinks he is already an engineer like him. But no, they meet in the school where both of them teach, only in separate departments, he being in engineering course and Rammil, a registered nurse, a clinical instructor. What a twist of fate! He calls it a happy reunion and friendship.
Now, Lloyd, an engineer, a college professor, a graduate of a doctor's degree, even a teacher licensure exam topnotcher, possesses a life-inspiring story. Whoever he is now, he becomes big in the hearts of the people whom he has touched and inspired. I am one of them.
And I am assured, I found myself in him, in his story.
Thank you Lloyd for this story.
The pains of life are pins of inspiration to live on. - Don B. Balderas Jr.