Memories are fickle things. We don’t always remember events the same way each time we recall them. Different details become visible or go out of focus, and the current moment and mood might add unexpected tints, just as our cumulative experience might cause us to frame the past in new ways.
For many of us, playing school-school as children may have been our first sense of “teaching”, so to speak, experimenting with that front-of-the-classroom power on our dolls or on hapless neighbourhood friends who were relegated to the role of students. That role play was all about imitation, dressing up in what we imagined as privilege to wield authority. But as many of the accounts in this issue of the magazine show, the actual work of teaching has little to do with authority, although, one might argue, it has a lot to do with the responsible exercise (and yielding) of power.
But let’s not get too serious here. When we thought of exploring the idea of “beginnings and endings” for this year’s Teacher’s Day issue, we had something lighter in mind, a sort of whimsical look-back at this journey – what we saw and felt when we stood at the door of a classroom the very first time to take our place not at a bench at the back, but at the blackboard at the front. And then, with a quick fast-forward to where we are now. For some of us, this might be at the end of a formal teaching career (it never really ends, does it?) and for others, it may be just a point of stopping and reflecting how far we’ve come from that first day.
One of the songs that my daughter has on her pre-game playlist (she’s a sportsperson) is Miley Cyrus’ It’s the climb – while it’s full of teenage angst, it also holds within it a truth that is no less true for acquiring the tinge of cliché. These arbitrarily inserted milestones (that moment of play, the formal appointment letter) give us a way to see our lives as a story that goes from point to point, and tell it in a way that makes sense to us and others. But more often than not, we are immersed in the journey – the climb – which has meaning in and of itself. The act of reflection gives us the opportunity to see this journey and the distance we have travelled.
So as we look back on our work, and our lives, and the fact that we have managed to live through these challenging times, let’s celebrate what we do, and what we’ve learned! We hope you enjoy these memories, and these stories!