One of the quotes that have continuously guided me in my teaching is by the poet W.B. Yeats who said that, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” Indeed, for a content-rich subject such as General Paper (GP), it’s easy to focus only on imparting head knowledge and content material. But I believe that it is much more crucial – and efficacious – to touch the hearts of the students, so that they naturally grow towards loving and appreciating the subject. In fact, a memorable incident was when one of my ex-students messaged me to say that before attending my GP lessons, she didn’t like to read the newspapers at all, but after coming for GP tuition, she now automatically desires to pick up the newspapers to read and find out about current affairs and social issues.
When I ask my students about their aims and hopes in life, the answers will invariably revolve around their future occupations and career dreams. Important as these are, I hope to enlarge their vision beyond the material life, and to understand that the most important things in life are ultimately not things. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote has been especially instructive in this.
“To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty;
To find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived;
That is to have succeeded.”
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