Teachers Who Changed My Life

It is May, which is the national education month in Indonesia. The second of May is celebrated as the national education day.


So I took time to ponder for a minute or two, trying to come up with the answer of the question:”Who are the teachers that changed your life?”


After some time, it’s hard for me to tell which teachers have the most impact on my life to date. All of them are influential in their own way. But I have to choose, here is the shortlist.

My parents

I may have hated my father and mother for teaching me mathematics until I shed tears. I flunked the math test and got an alarmingly low score in the academic report after I hid the answer sheet distributed earlier.

Mr. Subur Wardoyo

He introduced me to Oscar Wilde (the queer Irish versatile literary star), Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (that Jazz Age American writer), Ernest Hemingway (a drunken, sturdy built literary giant) and a lot more American writers I can aspire to. Mr Subur Wardoyo was just an amazing, easy-going, open-minded, the most liberal-viewed lecturer I had ever had on college. She taught me both in my undergraduate and graduate program. He is simply one of the best and this year we – my college pals and I – lost him. You’ll be really missed, pak Subur.


Mr. Sapardi Djoko Damono

Yes, that renowned Indonesian poet! He taught me Literary Sociology and I chose it as the topic of my thesis. I was a bit slow in the writing process. I almost gave up but a voice kept screaming inside my head:”You’ve gotta finish what you’ve already begun!!!” So I rekindled my spirit and made it. He made me realize that learning is not a sprint; instead it’s a marathon. A long long marathon.


Mr. Warsono

I still remember him teaching Writing III class in my junior year and how he instilled the passion of writing into me. And the soft-spoken lecturer was just legendary, thanks to his moustache and smooth cursive longhand on the blackboard. I guess one of the most anticipated classes in a whole year was his class. What made me even love him more is the fact that I managed to earn a great final score at the end of the sixth semester, which boosted my confidence and without him, I would never become the writer I am now.


Ms. Indri

She is my Math teacher in high school. So outspoken, so mean verbally, so un-ladylike. She kicked, she was foul-mouthed, she was just what she really is. No pretense.


She taught us math like she never cared about what we would speak behind her back in breaks. Who didn’t? She threw bits of chalk at us when we were too slow to submit our answer sheets. She smashed the eraser when a student stood frozen, unable to figure out the answer of a math problem written on the blackboard.


As an anti-math student, I hated her so much. But I had no choice but to deal with her like every other day. Math was a subject I never liked and she made me like it.


So I tried my best to survive in her class in fear of getting physically humiliated (being pinched for example) and boom!!! I hit my all-time highest math score: 8.


There were nights I could not go to bed early because I still could not believe I made it. I was stunned by my own math talent. I therefore realize that nothing is impossible if I study. I may not be a genius but I know I am not useless looser. I can work hard and stay focused and claim the results.


Though she looked so frightening, Ms. Indri sometimes threw us some jokes with a flat-faced facial expression that made you wonder whether she was in fury or just was being crazy.


Ms. Tri Alfa Inayati

I still remember, as a fourth grader of elementary school, I heard a compliment about my cursive longhand. “You should be ashamed. You’re a girl and your handwriting is less neat than Akhlis’,” she said to a girl in the class.


I felt sorry for hear. But my heart could not contain my joy upon overhearing this remark. Cruel to her. Flattering to me.


Since then I polished my longhand and had ever since been often designated the secretary of class.


I appreciate her for making me realize I was that rare species of boys in class with clear, tidy cursive longhand. I cannot thank her more. Because now I write like every day and make money off writing.


How about you? Do you have your own list of teachers who have changed your life? (*/)



Trophy Students

In my short-lived formal teaching career, there were two types of students I most easily remember:those with outstanding wits and those who seemed to have no hope of even any bit of progress in the future (you know what I mean). If I am asked whom I prefer teaching more as a teacher, I’ll say it depends.

Students with intelligent levels higher than yours might give you an easy time because you don’t need to make extra efforts to make them understand what you teach them. Once you explain, they’ll understand immediately. Everything is a piece of cake. Yet there’s a problem with this kind of students. They sometimes take you teachers for granted. They feel like you’re useless. It makes sense though. What they badly need is not knowledge improvement but respect and humility. In the future, you’ll treat them as your trophies, medals and diplomas. You’ll keep talking about them as if they owed you their life successes. They’re your highest achievements. That, however, feels strange to me. I don’t think I have any rights to claim so. They perhaps could still have been that successful even if I hadn’t taught them. It was just a matter of time before they reach successes.

The second sort of students might give you the hardest time in classes. They often look to be hard to manage, rude, rebellious, unattentive, noisy, chatty and shallow. They’re the embodiment of this failing society, if I’m allowed to sprinkle some sarcasm here. They tell you they hate your class; they hate going to college; they hate their parents for making them sit every day in these classes they never enjoy. In this situation, there seems to be nothing you could do to help them. But sometimes a few of these ignored students can show their best assets in a way you never imagined before. They have something else to offer besides their grammar or pronunciation that sucks a lot. And that’s amazing. I feel so blessed. Though of course, I couldn’t help myself giving them E or F. Despite that, they are likely to give you more satisfaction when you realize they learn from you they have something else to hone, something better to pursue than doing things they dislike (one of which is attending your classes). They’re just some fish fiercely taught to run on Sahara Desert. This understanding is just invaluable to help you figure out the complexity of their situation and prevent you from judging further without mercy. These students are not trophies you want to flaunt. They’re trophies you simply want to keep in your heart.

Knowledge is Power. Wrong, It Is Intangible Asset.

“Knowledge is like money: to be of value it must circulate, and in circulating it can increase in quantity and, hopefully, in value.”- Louis L’Amour

Gone are the days when we highly think of knowledge as inheritance to pass on to the subsequent generation. We now study something with the mind set to reap financial stability after graduation.