When I was in a primary school my ambition was to be an assistant district officer (ADO) or a teacher. My parent was so cooped up with their nephew who was an ADO of Pasir Mas at that time and talked about it all day and night until I came to think that’s the coolest job on the planet. He went on to be the State Sec of Kelantan and recently being an ass to the ailing sultan. But when I found out the world is bigger than my hometown Pasir Mas, I let go the first intention and hang on to the second one until this day. Well, sort of….I end up to be a lecturer instead. I admired my teachers a lot because they were the most successful people closest to me. Although they beat me up and looked me down as a loser bum who could not even kick a ball, I admired them nonethelessly. That’s what a small child does to an adult no matter what happens. I was made to believe that I deserved all the bad things that happened to me. So naïve I went on to love and admire my teachers. So one of the reasons I wanted to be a teacher was that I can be good to my students and teach them the world without any prejudice or preoccupation. You are what you are just let me show you the way.
I practiced writing on the blackboard so that my writing would not go up and down but straight from one side to another. I wrote large letters so my future students could read properly. I practiced to speak loudly word by word so my future students could listen to me clearly. Just like a kid spending time playing doctor or soldier; I spent my time playing teachers. When it was about time for me to leave school I wondered why my teachers were mostly studied at a “maktab” and not a university. I didn’t want to go to a maktab, it sounded so dark and horrible. Maybe that’s why all the teachers were like that—unfriendly—because they came out of this dungeon. So I thought. Can I go to the university and still be a teacher? —when I got the answer to that question, I had no doubt of what I would do for the next one thousand years.
Is a pensyarah similar to a teacher? The answer is no, it’s not similar. But since being a teacher is said to be noble and sacred, we tend to tag along and menumpang tuah of those teachers. When people celebrate the Teacher’s Day we close one eye and pretend to be one and be so proud for one brief moment. I am not sure whether it is a good thing or bad when I said our profession is not similar; but one thing for sure we are not the same. Maybe if I could make a list ,it would be as follows:
- A teacher is much more closer to the students and responsible to nurture not only their academics but other aspect of a human needs such psychological, sociological, spiritual and physical.
- Development of a child at different level of growth.
- Students demand a very focused and specific learning experience to cater for their intelligence and skills.
- Teachers claim a special social status in the community.
- In order to execute all those tasks, teachers would require a special set of teaching skills that they can get from a maktab.
Pensyarah on the other hand may be fit into that list between 20-30% only. Mainly because we attend to the different group of students that require and demand different things altogether. All those small kids have grown into much more elegant adolescence who know what they want and what they hate. They seek fun all the time and come to the class only when there is absolutely positively nothing else to do. And they burn all our money in cigarettes, BBQ ,weekend drifts and drags. And do you know what a pensyarah does to tackle these issues? Nothing. We have one Timbalan Dekan for student affairs in the faculty and we put all the blame on this poor guy. We lecture, put up some quizzes and tests, see what they have to say in a presentation and off you go. I guess we are not much of a help in that area—-the teaching part—-but we are also responsible for other academic endeavor such as research and publication which teachers do not focus. So is it good enough reason to justify our dissimilarity? Frankly speaking, I don’t really know how to answer that….maybe it is not that important.