Thursday, June 18, 2009

Reconciling myself...

After the safety question, the second question I am usually asked when I tell people what I do is:

“Oh you teach in a township? Is it hard? It must be really hard…”

My answer, as previously mentioned, generally does not change and falls along the lines of recognizing and understanding how difficult the lives of my students and their social locations are, is hard. Teaching in a township is no harder than any other teaching job I have had in the past. The challenges that exist because of my students’ poor literacy skills are tied into the poverty into which they have been forced, that has equipped them with a sub-par primary education, giving them building blocks so weak that everything that comes next is shaky at best.

A close second to my beef with irresponsible teachers is my frustration at my inability to connect with more students, and recognizing those students whom I am unable to help. Students who are so far gone down the path of illiteracy, having been ushered through the school system despite being unable to read or spell. These students need intense, one-on-one tutoring if they are to even have a fighting chance at a decent job down the line. Unfortunately, nothing like that exists for them and as such, for all intents and purposes, they are lost.

It is only very recently that I have started to come to terms with the fact that I can’t help every student. I give all of me to the students I work with, whether they are in classes I teach or not. I love them and I will do anything for them. I only work with about 200 students out of 1100 enrolled. A year and a half and I have only just begun to accept that that is enough. It’s not ideal. But that’s okay.

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