I'm Darker, Fatter, Teacher

Nisa Permatasari 27 Januari 2011
There is one thing I should say upfront. I’ve never tried to be a hero in the first place. I just want to be a teacher. When I took the application form for this job, I didn’t even notice the “Satu Tahun Mengajar, Seumur Hidup Menginspirasi”. The reason why I applied was all practical when I think about it now. I always know I want to have my own school someday. I’ve never been involved in any formal education institution, school that is. And I just want to live somewhere new. So Indonesia Mengajar was the best alternative to get what I want. When many of my fellow Pengajar Muda was making a big decision like dropping their career, or wanting to inspire, or giving something for Indonesia, or making a whole new direction in their lives, I, on the other hand, was simply walking my path. This path, teaching, is what I want. Why did I apply for this? I always say, because I want to be a teacher. It’s the same thing like when you say you want to work in a big multinational company as you have graduated. It’s the job you want. And there is nothing wrong in wanting the job that you want, whatever it is. Does that make any sense? Now, why do I want to be a teacher? You know how you feel happy when your work is appreciated and you feel like you’ve done a good job? Now I want to be a teacher because I like to feel appreciated of my work, and I just like to feel it faster. In front of the class I can tell something people think they don’t know, or something they think they know but they actually don’t. Then I can instantly know whether I’ve done a good job telling it or not. The other reason is because, before this, I thought I was a good in teaching. After almost 3 months here I found out some things among many other things. First, I get what I want, I’m starting to be a teacher. A real teacher. Second, I’m not so good in teaching anymore. Well, in Jakarta maybe I’m still good. Here? Teaching has a new definiton for me. Teaching kids how to use their writing books, or spending more than 1 hour for my students to write 2 short paragraphs were never on my list of skills. But now I’m doing it. I’m not the person who inspires. I’m not the hero to save anyone. I’m a cynic, how can I do all that? I don’t change life. The only person who can change one’s life is that oneself, right? I punish my students when they’re not being nice either to me or to the class; I did walk-outs, I locked my students in class to write 100 sentences of one promise, I yelled, and God knows how I restrain myself hard from slapping them in the head sometime. I don’t tell my students that I’ll tell them about everything they don’t know. Some things I just don’t know, like Math and some Science. I don’t know every secret in this world. I don’t always know how to get my students to study. Although sometime my students can really amuse me and give me good times, but there are times when I feel like giving up. There are time when “Lihat Senyum Mereka” can no longer work. But I still teach. I still love my job. I don’t have that heavy feeling in the morning before going to work. And I honestly think that I would regret it if I ever hit my student. I’m just saying that I’m doing my job, the job that I chose. Everything I do is what normal teachers do. I get up in the morning, go to school, go to class. Teacher is a common and normal profession. Sure, maybe being a teacher we need more patience, and affection. But that’s it, and even that is already in the job description. I’m not saying it’s easy, just like there is no such thing as the easiest profession, but that’s what a teacher is. When you’re an auditor, you need patience to face your client, and durability to keep working all the time. But again, that’s how auditors are. If I give extra lessons after school hour, that’s like any kind of overtime in other job. I’d like to see the non material things I get from teaching as given. In general, simply said in any kind of job, it comes along with the enjoyment of the job. You’ll do more when you enjoy your work; therefore, you get more. I don’t know. I just feel uncomfortable with the thought that teaching is more noble, especially just because when it’s in remote areas. That thought is intimidating. It’s normal to get fat when I eat a lot, it doesn’t matter the fact that I eat super good chocolate everyday. It’s normal to get darker when I consciously spend a lot of time under the sun. You should not think that I get darker because I cast myself out somewhere far to be a saint. I can understand that it’s a nice thing what I’m doing here. But I’m not living a saint life. I’m living a teacher life.

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