reader report

Why I teach: To change one life

17:07, Sep 21 2012
Sanoe group
Sharron (me), Andrew (another teacher) and elementary students in Sanoe Elementary School.

I teach in the hope I can change the life of just one person. That one person that might one day become prime minister, or a public personality; that one person that might make a difference in someone else's life.

We hear so many stories about the children that fall through the gaps, yet as teachers we are at times powerless to help, whether it be through lack of government funding, inadequate resources, or just not enough hours in the day.

Every child deserves a decent education. Ranking schools by decile is just plain stupid: socioeconomic status shouldn't even come into the education equation. So a school is in a more affluent area, having children from other less affluent areas attend that school will allow others to see and show empathy for the have-nots, as opposed to ridicule and bullying. Teachers are becoming more and more like referees rather than educators.

I personally could not teach in New Zealand. Some New Zealand parents don't rate education highly on their priorities - "Heck, you don't need an education, you can sit on the benefit." I have seen the product of some primary schools. While in no way do I blame the teachers, the parents should be accountable.

In South Korea, where I teach, the students are on the whole polite and respectful - even out of school. While the affluent here can afford after-school academies for their offspring, the chance for all to have a decent education is available: scholarships at high school and university level, not just for a select few or disadvantaged but for all. There is no division for skin colour - it is all on academic merit.

I teach in South Korea so my students can live, learn and understand other cultures rather than judge others by the colour of their skin. I teach that an open mind opens doors to other possibilities, and that with a little hard work the door will be open for them too.

If these opportunities were available to New Zealand students regardless of socioeconomic status, we would have more well-rounded, culturally sensitive people, rather than racist misunderstandings due to ignorance. In the end the attitudes of the parents, and the short-term thinking of the Government, needs to change before teachers can really show their students what is out there in the world.