Teachers Matter. On Friday of last week the annual general meeting of the Anguilla Teachers Union took place. I was asked to speak on the theme for this year's World Teachers' Day. A bit of research soon revealed that a lot of thinking and publishing has gone into the subject. I had no difficulty finding things to say.
While I was on the topic, it occurred to me that my experience with my arithmetic teacher might be relevant. So, I told the gathered teachers about Mr Rais. This was what I said:
“I want to tell you about Mr Rais. He was my arithmetic teacher when I went to boarding school in Trinidad at 9 years of age. This was a long time ago. The main teaching tool then was the chalk board and a wood-backed duster to wipe it clean from time to time. Mr Rais made me learn my tables. He taught additions, subtractions and multiplications. It must have been very boring for him. He used to pace up and down the spaces between the desks as we did our class assignments. He would peer over my shoulder at my exercise book. Every time he noticed an error, he would rap me on the top of my head with the wooden back of the duster.
To this day, I cannot multiply beyond 5. The 10 times table was easy. You just had to add a zero to the figure. If I have to work out 8 times 8, I can only do it by adding 3 times 8 to 5 times 8. Or, for variety, I might subtract 2 times 8 from 10 times 8. I failed mathematics at O-Level twice.
I loved physics and chemistry from Form 1. I asked for a chemistry set as a Christmas gift every year. I did well in those subjects right up to Form 5. Then, mathematics entered the picture. I failed both physics and chemistry at O-Level. When I think of that teacher, a special loathing rises in me.”
So, yes, teachers do matter. In more ways than one. And, yes, I joined the Union. I am now a fully paid up member.
If you would like to read the speech, it is available here.