Well, life under Movement Control Order (MCO) has been extremely challenging for all of us. There is a saying that we never appreciate the value of water until the pipe runs dry. That is true with a lot of other things too. We always take people, things and freedom for granted, especially if we have never been without them. Sometimes going without can be a great teacher.
The uncertainties surrounding us with the Covid-19 crisis reminds me of a folk tale: A man facing many problems in his life went to see a palm reader. The palm reader carefully scanned the man’s right hand and said, “You will struggle badly and will hardly cope in the next three months as you will have lots of problems along the way.” Trying to look at the positive side, the man asked curiously, “Does this mean all my problems will go away after three months?” The palm reader smiled and replied, “You will still have problems after three months, but by then you will have got used to them”
Though the story was used to make people smile and accept reality, if we look at it deeply, it clearly reveals the power of human resilience. I think the ability to bounce back is the most important life skill for humans to survive in this world that is filled with challenges and uncertainties. As Maya Angelou, an American civil rights activist, rightly said, “I can be changed by what happens to me, but I refuse to be reduced by it”.
With the economy taking a huge hit and the financial situation of people worsening due to this Covid-19 crisis, there is already pressure on private educational institutions around the world as education has been impacted particularly hard by this pandemic. In the face of this adversity, what has particularly impressed me has been the resilience that can be witnessed among teachers, who were traditionally trained to teach in physical classrooms, to adapt to online classrooms in such a short notice. This makes it evident that adversity is the best teacher that helps to push us out of our comfort zone, to become more creative and resourceful.
Recently, an elderly teacher with decades of teaching experience shared a heart-warming story with me about her online classroom experience with her senior-most students. When she got stuck with a feature in her online classroom platform and tried to figure it out, she felt bad and apologised to the students for making them wait. She recalled the comment from one of her students that made her teary-eyed, “We can see you trying to do something for us which you are not familiar with or comfortable using. We respect your effort and time in getting this right to make us learn. We do learn when we see you learning for us.”
The resilient teachers are the best role models for students as they teach by example. They do not just teach how to do well in curriculum subjects but also how to stay strong and spirited during challenging times.
The lesson that I am learning from these extraordinary teachers is that every challenge which comes along can be turned into an opportunity to learn and shine if we want it to. We must all recognise the power of that resilience and appreciate that true education is not about giving the child a fish, but about teaching them how to fish.