PRESTIGE AND ROMANCE WITHIN THE EDUCATION ENVIRONMENT

On occasion of Vietnamese Teachers’ Day, please share happiness with Mr Charles Wong Esq - ESL Academic Manager. Saigon Academy, NTB Campus in his teaching exprience.

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Opening phrase:- “Instruct the audience to stand/rise up from their seats and to follow in repeating aloud the following mantra”:-

“The Light surrounds me! The Light goes through me! I am the Light.”
 

Indeed, as they say ‘Time really flies’, ’It waits for no one’. With just a blink of an eye, resembling a dream, almost a decade had gone-by since that very fateful year of mid-2009 when I had a deep passionate calling within to serve others by being an educator.

I am therefore deeply honoured to have been given this opportunity to share my views on the topic of Prestige and Romance within the education environment or in French “Prestige et Romance dans le milieu éducatif”.

Earlier, I begin my opening speech by ushering everyone to chant the Light mantra! It is through these powerful words which symbolises our true consciousness as an educator and keeper of the ‘Light of Knowledge”...

One must have a true conviction and desire to really share one’s talents, knowledge and passion to others in order to be a teacher. But above all one must also have the patience with real concerns to the students especially when dealing with the younger preschoolers and the ability to teach inspirationally whilst constantly searching and updating new teaching skills to overcome obsolete methods and social representations which overwhelms students' minds. So, teachers have to find ways in which to motivate students and connect their informal learning to their formal education. 

As for my joyful teaching experience with the preschoolers I cannot help but to recall some of my teaching memories and experiences at Saigon Academy NTB campus. Seeing those children learn, grow up and eventually graduate brings a kind of satisfaction where no amount of money can buy.

When I walked into the classroom for the first time, a five year old girl sitting in the front saw me. She leaped out of her chair jumped up and down in the air twice, with a look of joy on her face, before rushing over to give me a big bear hug. Maybe - I do not know - she was excited to see me perhaps because I am wearing one of my crazy colourful trademark hats. Moreover, after she hugged me she asked me, in English, to lift her into the air, which of course I did. 

Then all the other 14 five year olds jumped out their chairs and asked me to give them an "up and down" - their term for ‘being lifted up in the air’. Sweat poured from my forehead by the time I lifted the last child, as some of them are pretty well fed and heavy. All these happen no more than three minutes since I first walked into that classroom.

Therefore, I have felt an instant connection to that five year old who has showed me such affection when I first walked into her classroom. And the "up and downs" for the 14 students have become a tradition and all of the students, usually, return to their seats before I locate the carefully-hidden remote control to the TV hidden by the homeroom teacher away from preying eyes. With the remote on my hand, this is usually the signal to the students that the English lesson has begun.

I then play amazingly imaginative and professionally produced videos, in English, depicting typical childhood activities so my students can match the actions with English words. Normally those kids know every video and song by heart and, at just five years of age, showed tremendous intelligence as compared to my childhood.

The end of last semester also marked the end of classes for the five-year-old pre-schoolers and their graduation ceremony held in a plush air-conditioned auditorium located at the Hong Bang University in the heart of Saigon. But it was much more than a mere formality - it was a talent show featuring the graduating five year olds and it was full of skits and music and singing and dancing - and all in English.  Those kids, and their costumes, were amazing!

After the final skit on stage, all the five year olds - dressed in caps and gowns - were assembled up on the massive stage and each was handed a diploma and a stuffed pillow shaped like a heart, one side covered with red cloth and the other covered in white cloth, with bold black letters on the white side that said, in English: "I love you."

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Once the photo shoot is over the graduating five year olds slowly walked off the stage. Many of the parents and other relatives were having happy tears. Everyone was standing and clapping.

Suddenly, unexpectedly, to my utmost surprised the very little girl who jumped up and down when I first entered her classroom walked off the stage and headed straight over to me as I was honoured to be asked to sit in the front row. She then held the heart-shaped pillow in front of me with the side that said: "I love you." I then turned her heart-shaped pillow around to show her the side with the red cloth and I said to her: "And I love you, too!" Then the five year jumped up and down twice, with a look of joy on her face - just as she did on the first day when I walked into her classroom - before running up an aisle to re-join her parents.


Never underestimate our capacity for unconditional love, regardless of race and bloodlines. That capacity lives just beneath your skin, like the seeds of flowers lying beneath the desert sand, awaiting rain. The blossoms of the flowers that bloom in the desert following the rain are the faces of the children into whose school I have been so graciously involved.

To wisely sum up, the substance and romance about teaching is all about the nitty-gritty hard work required daily of teachers to get - and keep - the students excited about learning and having students leave school at the end of the day actually knowing something they did not know when they arrived that morning..

Charles Wong Esq - ESL Academic Manager - Saigon Academy, NTB Campus