Recently I read a news report about a man who bumped into his former primary schoolteacher and physically attacked him. When asked why, he said the teacher used to insult him constantly at school, some 10 years ago.
It’s sad that the man is still angry about what happened. If I were him, such a comment by a teacher would inspire me to improve myself and become a useful member of society.
I know some teachers work late into the night and even on holidays so we cannot thank them enough. Maybe the teacher insulted the young man as a way to motivate him.
The young man should not have been so angry for so long. Teachers want to help us be the best we can be.
Jason Wong Chun-tong, QESOSA Tong Kwok Wah Secondary School
From the Editor
Thank you for your insightful letter, Jason. I agree that neither insults nor violence are ever the right response to any situation, even if someone has made a comment that has hurt a person deeply.
A better way to deal with the emotional impact of hurtful words is to simply tell the other person how you feel. Even if the teacher’s comments in the past were hurtful to the student, an honest chat between them may have resulted in a happier ending.
I also want to say that if what the young man said is true of the teacher, this behaviour would have been highly unacceptable. Although I don’t know the entire story, a schoolteacher is an important role model for their students. No matter how tired and frustrated an educator feels, verbally abusing a student is wrong. It is not the right thing to do in any situation.
Teachers are humans, too. I was a secondary schoolteacher for many years and there were times I also felt unhappy with my students’ performance.
However, part of the promise you make when you decide to become an educator is to show students how to be great human beings. Students always learn by example, so teachers should always set a high standard of behaviour for themselves first.
Jamie Lam, Special Projects Editor