Keystone Magazine - Page 59

Q: Who or what has had the most influence on you in your career as an educator? A: My grade 1 Chinese language teacher had a big influence on me. At the time, she was old. She liked every child, but she was very strict with us. I was able to build a strong foundation in Chinese because of her instruction and teaching style. And that is when I started thinking about how interesting becoming a teacher would be. When I was in grade 3, my family was placed on the ‘Black Five’ list1. The list was compiled during the Cultural Revolution and included large and small landowners, counter revolutionaries, criminals, and rightists. Every day my teacher would pick me and other children whose families were also on the Black Five list up at our homes and walk us to school. After school she would also walk each of us home to protect us and ensure that we arrived safely at our destinations. These two teachers in particular have had the largest influence on me as an educator. The love and care they showed me as their student helped me to overcome the external pressures that existed at the time – teachers were looked down upon then and called the ‘Stinky Ninth’ category2, behind people on the Black Five list and several other categories of people – and endeavor to become a teacher. I have never regretted my decision to become a teacher, because after many years in the profession, I still find joy and happiness in my work. My work is not mundane, or trivial. Something new always happens, even if I am teaching the same group of students “Our focus is to develop their higherlevel thinking skills by giving them ample opportunities to explore…on the content that is provided.” every day and even if we are working with the same book. Students ask different questions, which require me to think of new ways to teach so that they are able to understand the material and concepts being discussion. So when I work with students I also learn from them. In fact, I have been learning new things, and improving myself daily for the last 30 years. I welcome and enjoy this process of change. As a teacher, I will never become financially rich, but I am afforded happiness and a sense of accomplishment. I am blessed to be able to do something that I love. I always tell my son that no matter what he does for work, he should make sure that he does something that he likes. And then everything else will be fine. 1: The Black Five (黑五类 hei wu lei) refers to five socio-political groups of people in the Cultural Revolution: landlords, rich farmers, counterrevolutionaries, bad-influencers, and right-wingers. 2: The Stinky Ninth (臭老九 chou lao jiu) was the commonly used dysphemism for intellectuals during the Cultural Revolution. Dai Min with students at ‘China Experience Week’ in Yunan Province 57