by Moc Mien
My close friend, Nguyen My Trang, is a part-time elementary-level English teacher for a famous English centre in Ha Noi. Although she was not trained in English pedagogy, she is still shining in her teaching career, due to her rich experience. She is so confident in inspiring little kids.
When it comes to Vietnamese Teacher's Day [which falls on November 20], my friend couldn't be more excited and happy with her students.
"Despite working part-time at the centre, I have really immersed myself in the environment," Trang said. "The students love me and I find my life so meaningful."
Different from Trang, Hoang Hai Minh, 28, a teacher at a private secondary and high school, is concerned about the relationship between teachers and students nowadays.
"Decades ago, the relationship between teachers and students was closer, more respectful and sacred. I can't be more worried about it in contemporary life. The students, on one hand, are more intelligent, active and motivated. On the other hand, they are more naughty, more free-spirited and harder to educate,"Minh said.
This is not the first time worries like Minh's have been mentioned. The reasons vary and come from different sides: parents, teachers, students, the education system and social changes.
The first is the birth of many private schools, education centres and other extra classes, which turn education into a "real service". As a result, those who pay will pay for the best service with the best teaching quality, best attitude and behaviour of teachers.
"Most students now are the result of a society in which rich people start to come out into the light," Minh said.
Teachers were under increasing pressure to provide educational services, Minh added. Teachers were now expected to stay strict and discipline children, while at the same time satisfying their customers to maintain the schools' revenue.
"I think the age of authoritarian education has gone," said Tran Thu Ha, a 35-year-old mother. "I appreciate a real educational environment in which order, seriousness and discipline are assured, but I am afraid about some children suffering from mental illnesses caused by teachers at school. I need my children to learn how to be creative and independent. They need appreciation and respect, as well. So I expect that the teachers in this era will act as inspirers rather than presenters."
One more thing is that students now have more accesses to various sources of information, i.e. TV, books and newspapers, and the internet, which help build personalities and freedom more quickly than in the past. Also, children going through puberty can have more aggressive responses to teachers.
"I am so surprised that my students found my personal Facebook page," Minh said.
"They gossip about it. Of course they have the right to say so when the information is made public. But it also makes me worried about the limited awareness of privacy in their behavior and communication that both schools and families should help them to build."
Ties between students and teachers aren't completely negative. My friend Trang still goes to work happy and excited.
"Maybe it's because my students are kids so I find it easier to interact and help them change," Trang said. "The kids are so cute and lovely. I just need to find a suitable approach to making them feel loved and disciplined so they will go my way. Sometimes I have to think a lot about their questions so I change to another topic, leaving them to think alone for a while, and then I will come back to help them fix the problem. I don't vote for authoritarian education."
Many generations of students have come and gone. Good ones are achievements for the teachers. Bad ones are concerning, and teachers need to work to find solutions to educate them.
"Whatever things change, education is still a sacred career," Minh said.
"It is the relationship between teachers and students that push the teachers to work out different teaching methods to ensure the sacred education. The more challenges the teachers have to cope with, the more meaningful the career becomes," he adds. — VNS