Dear Cohort 3

I few weeks ago, I was approached to contribute to a Professional Development lecture that a senior of my course was invited to conduct with my juniors.
I was asked to contribute views that would prepare them for the teaching realities that they may be placed in next year.
I put it in the form of a letter.

I decided to only publish it today so that my juniors will see the information in his lecture first (which took place today).
Have a read & tell me if you agree which my views.

Dear Cohort 3,
Congratulations, Cohort 3. Congratulations on being selected for an exclusive & distinguished overseas twinning scholarship. Furthermore, congratulations on completing 2 exciting & fruitful years overseas. I am sure you will succeed just as well in your final year & make a difference during your short practicum stint. You have every reason to feel good about yourself.
Now, time for the hard truth. The climax is over. The falling action has just begun. When you leave IPGM KBA & wait for your posting letter, the deepest depths of reality will smack you right in the face. While you are a student, you are special. Soon you will finish your studies. After that, you are special no more. You have become just a normal teacher with a degree. After spending so much money on training us to be the best of the best, we are treated just like the rest.

You will be posted just like any other teacher. There is no special programme in this country for you to utilise your expertise. You have to claw your way out of scratch in a system which is more pro-seniority than it is pro-meritocracy. Translation: those who have been there longer will get the rewards before you do. Even when your amount of work in 1 day is 3 or 4 times more than what the seniors do in 1 week.

To make matters worse, after arriving at your school, many of you will receive a bleak vision of your future & the ever growing amount of work you continuously receive will not help much neither. Imagine leaving the big cities that you are used to for somewhere in the interiors of Sarawak, Sabah or Johor. Imagine riding 2-3 hours on a small wooden boat through a dirty brown river or having to wade through waist-high flood waters while carrying all your belongings over your head to get to school. Imagine having no internet access or even no cell-phone coverage. This is the reality of your seniors. It could be yours too.

As if the lack of prospects & less than ideal location is not tough enough, teaching is a continuously frustrating task in Malaysia. Students are hard to handle. They make loud noises, they don’t follow instructions & they lie. They also forget important lessons that you worked so hard on. Furthermore, English proficiency is generally bad everywhere except in cities. Many of you will become discouraged. Many of you will feel like quitting. Many of you will indeed leave the programme.

Why do you want to be a teacher? This is an important question that many of you, like me, have procrastinated in finding an answer. I suggest you find your motivation now. Every morning when I wake up, I foresee & prepare myself for the many difficulties I will have to face on that day. I also see that these difficulties will stretch on for many frustrating years. Every morning, I struggle to be convinced with my own answers.

There is no glory, fortune or ease to be found in this profession. But there is a need. So great is this need that it requires a willing heart to sacrifice itself for the benefit of others. When you go to your school, you will see this need. You see it in the blank stares of your students, their unknowing errors & their reluctance to use the language. At the same time, you will also see into your heart. You see it in the actions you take to meet the need. Or will you even attempt meet the need?

Anyone who told you that teaching is a profession lied. It takes more than a professional to be a teacher. Do you have what it takes to be a teacher? Ask yourself now &, with love in your heart, prepare yourself for your ever approaching future.

Hope for the best & prepare for the worst.

With faith in every one of you,
Yong Jik Kam


  1. yo~
    deep thoughts..
    x bad x bad..

  2. YES! I agree! Well written Koko...
    I wanna add, you need the bonds with friends now to keep on going... Coz that's wut help me going.

  3. Anonymous8/4/09 19:11

    Yea, I'm with Nas on that.
    Seeing friends every once in a while actually helps me to keep going.


  4. yup2. have to agree with most of the stuff you said. more than once have i felt like i so wanna quit this job...

    there are moments when i love it, but more often than not, i don't. also have to agree with what nas and nozi said

  5. Anonymous9/4/09 14:57

    i will never quit this job, damn i luv it....gettin up early n comin home late, no OT pay, wat else can u ask from a pfrofession..... or i shud say NOOOT to watever i hav jus said


  6. SinYan:
    Once you reach my age...
    You'll be as deep a thinker.

    So true!
    Friends are so important for mental & emotional support!

    It's too bad I cant see you guys...
    And I only see my Kuching buddies once in a blue moon...
    If only you were here with me too...

    Mixed feelings, eh?
    It's so easy to settle for this because the money is good & it is steadily increasing.

    But are we meant for so much more?
    That is a question that we have to answer ourselves.

    You are sooooo positive, bro!
    I sooooo admire your spirit!
    Saq qaq!!

  7. er..
    you're like saying that you are old guy..
    but you're young!
    and you got deep thoughts..
    that means..
    you're a MATURE guy!!!
    hahaha~~~ XD

  8. Anonymous9/4/09 19:10

    Well said. The most prized possesion that we get now is a secured job. We do not need to be scrutinised from toes to hair by lecturers or senior teachers to get into this position, we do not need to scan through pages of job advertisements for a work to pay the bills and certainly on the 25th of every month, there will be a four digit number in our bank account, no matter how plunging is the economic graph these days. Oh, did I mention the 60% pension money for the next 30 years or more of our life after we retire? Hmmm..

  9. Whoa. That essay threw out all of my former notions on what teaching was all about!
    I suppose most of the teachers I know always seemed more laxed and quiet on the problems between them and the school adminstrators, so I had no idea of the struggles they faced. hehe xx

  10. Nice one there koko. It is not like how we want it to be, but it is the reality, and whatever happens, i can't wait to feel it!

    Anyways, bon courage koko!~ :)

  11. I think you know that my spirit is slowly thinning and my patience is slowly slipping away at school. I wish there is a button I could press that would change things for the better.

    I went into teaching with much enthusiasm and faith. But everyday, I find myself doing the exact opposite of what I want to do. I often get frustrated for having dealt with a child in a way I should not have.

    At the end of the day, I sigh and resign to leave it to fate. If the school admin only wants to do a half-hearted job, if the parents wont bother to discipline their children at home...what magic can I whip up?

    I am already on the verge of giving up.

  12. 4 informing us ;] i ready for those? hm..

    u make me

  13. SinYan:

    Yes, we have landed the safest dead end job in the country!

    Welcome to the Eyes of koko'!

    Thanks, Jessica!

    I think a lot of us who want to really do more than what we are doing are given busy work which produce little positive result.
    But we're too busy to notice that.

    That's the whole point of my blog!
    To make ppl rethink things!

  14. hye,

    thanks for the information..
    now i should ask myself why i choose this programme at the first place
    but i am not a quitter..:)

    i'm looking forward for next year!

    wish me the best!!!


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