Monday, January 19, 2009

January 7th, 1979: From Liberation to Occupation

In Cambodia, January 7th, 1979 is a time of reflection for all Khmer people and real peace lovers. However, there are conflicted emotions about from the liberation of Cambodia to the occupation by the Vietnamese. The article I posted in The Cambodia Daily on January 7th, 2009: From Liberation to Occupation, reflects my view on the historical event. May all see the truth of what really happened!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

What is teaching and Why I teach?

Pagoda Onalum, Elementary Class, Phnom-Penh, Cambodia,
Highland Park Middle School, Beaverton, Oregon, USA

What is teaching and Why I teach?
“Teaching is caring, sharing, and giving”

First and foremost, what is teaching? Teaching is a universal pursuit – everybody does it. Parents teach their children, coach teach their players, wives teach their husbands, husbands teach their wives, employers teach their employees, friends teach friends, professional teachers teach their students and students teach teachers. Helping people learn is teaching. In schools, the goal of teaching is student’s learning. The goal of improving teaching is improving students’ learning. Teaching is learning and learning is teaching.

Now why I teach? I teach because teaching is the most complex, difficult, challenging, and also uplifting, noblest and important job in the world. Teaching is the activity most clearly responsible for learning and thinking. Teaching provides endless challenges and opportunities for my personal growth. Every day, teaching tests my interpersonal skills, my academic knowledge, and my leadership ability. Teaching is giving. I give children knowledge, skills, experiences, and myself. Teaching is caring. I care about the children health, safety, growth, and self-esteem. Teaching is sharing. I share with the children real success, self-confidence, and internal motivation. This is the wheel of my generativity to serve the younger generation to develop and lead useful lives.

Teaching is giving. I want to give the children something priceless that could always be given back to others for gain rather than for loss, and something any of us can do, and yet few of us care to go to the trouble to do. I am always looking for innovative ways to enhance the children life chances by providing them continual, adaptive refinements of strategies and alternatives. I expose, engage and involve them in active learning so they will have the best possible chance to be successful, strong and healthy. There’s no better way to experience the joy of teaching than to see students’ joy of learning blossom because all students deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential. Teachers are models of unconditional kindness, compassion, and love. By giving others something they didn’t already know and have, I have gained more than I have given and realized that hope shines in a world where hopeless prevail.

Teaching is caring. I care about children because by giving back of myself, I improve the world of people around me. I want to take part to create the pathway to the future of the children. I know that I am spending my life in an honorable pursuit and that my life has a purpose and meaning; helping every child becomes a productive and responsible member of the society. I believe each of us has a special gift that can change a myriad of lives for the better. Most of my dreams have come true. I want to be a vehicle to make their dreams come true as well. Yet, I admit I can’t teach everything. Sometimes I have sought refuge in my own learning, in gaining awareness-in the kind of education not found in school. Such topics are perceptions and judgments

Teaching is sharing. The basic concept of teaching is to give up one’s self interest for the sake of others. I have the opportunity to share my enthusiasm and my passion for learning with young people. I have the awesome privilege of being able to help others to help themselves. I can promote their sense of well-being, self-confidence and dignity knowing that self-esteem is fostered by being told, and reminded they are important, valued, and successful. I challenge young people to develop their individual strengths and specific talents. Teaching inspires me to think beyond myself for the benefit of others. As teacher, I am making a difference in the lives of the children, families, and the communities who would not otherwise have access to quality education. I can make a significant difference in the lives of students.

As I continue to evolve, learn and grow, I devote myself to create a culture of learning. New ideas and innovative concepts become useful only if I can figure out what to do with them. Study without action is fatale. Action without study is futile. My knowledge of teaching is not just based on books, theories, studies, lectures, but also from interactions and many gleanings from my experience. My hands-on approaches can only be gained from the practice and experience of teaching and learning. In this way, the theoretical knowledge and the actual practice were most beneficially combined to gain penetrating knowledge of teaching and learning. With a bit of new vision and a lot of heart, I can help shape the lives of the children. It is when we forget ourselves that we do things that are remembered.

In my country’s perspective (Cambodia), since schools are symbol of order and stability, to achieve growth that will be lasting, what needed are opportunities for government leaders, policy makers, school staffs, students, parents and community organizations to work together. The aim must be to build a different kind of school culture, one that develops an exemplary curriculum, identifies effective teaching approaches, eliminate all forms of corruption, cultivates teacher and students relationship, and establishes an atmosphere of mutual respect. Learning cannot be bought and sold. What scare me the most are the decreased moral and traditional values. Doing what one has to survive can result in devastation to one’s self-concept and self-esteem. I am motivated by the need to serve and give back beyond creating material wealth. People who lack possessions and materials wealth but do not lack spirit and happiness have inspired me. I teach who I am.

To sum up, I teach because I have the greatest opportunity to impact and to influence the student’s life. I experience the rewarding experience of teaching student to understand and value the importance of academic and practical learning, and to build self-esteem as well as self-confidence. Yet, I open myself to uncertainty not knowing prior expectation from the students. Each teaching day is a success in itself. I persevere because I have confident in their ability. I let my passion and my enthusiasm guide me. I fertilize the integration of morality seed within each individual student. In this process, I avoid set up expectation because the students might start discouraging themselves if they cannot achieve what I want them to achieve. I inspire the student through multiples engaging learning activities. I let the learning flows and drips slowly but effectively in their mind. They will succeed later and better. Just as climbing the mountain requires effort, strength and endurance. When they reach the top the view is spectacular. I require students to take responsibility for their own learning behavior and chart their own growth. The students need as much assistance as society can give them, individually and communally.

Finally, I have found that there is no such thing as real success in teaching but when I fail, I fail gloriously. Everyday even I show one student that I truly care about him or her is a great day for me. Each teaching day is a success in itself. What a rewarding profession and a joyous experience I have chosen; helping children of any age learn new skills, nourish their mind and acquire new insights. As mother Theresa said: “the miracle is not that we do this work, but we are happy to do it.” I am happy to teach.