Today is the last day of a term where I was immersed as a teacher/lecturer.I have no formal education as a teacher but this is what I have been in educational settings since I was 18years old. First as a sunday school teacher to primary school children, then an on and off teacher where I stayed with about 50 children between 6 and 13 years for 3 years while I was an undergrad student.
When the thought of teaching first came to mind it was about how I would be the person who would influence the learners and draw them out and be part of their journey of making sense of who they are. Instead little of this has happened. I have been the student learning about life from people as young as 6 years old. The greatest lesson I learned from "the Dinkies"(Grade1-3 learners who were living at the hostel with me) that the most important thing in life is to play and be listened to; the best form of violence is to kill people with kindness and hugs have the ability of communicating everything without saying a word.
But being a teaching assistant in higher education has been a different lesson, I have questions? Why do students bother with higher education if they don't want to do the work? What happens between Grade1 where school is an adventure to first year varsity where varsity becomes a party? A student in the isiXhosa 1 mother tongue asked me a question today "wena wenzani ngokubhalwa kwesiXhosa nokuphuhliswa kwaso?...what am I doing about isiXhosa literature and the development of this. I gave him an answer, but the question that underlies this, why is it so important to me that people (especially children) read in a language that is not internationally recognised? Why is it important to make people aware of difference and accept and embrace that difference?
I don't have answers for these questions, but hopefully lessons along the way will show me why higher education is so complex and requires not only mind but heart as well.