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Old-fashioned teaching, the only way for me Print E-mail

Image“Each week report card had a string of marks in red and each Monday I had to face Bro Alphonsus.  I was a stubborn boy and no amount  of  scolding  by Brother could change my habits.  It was a test of patience, and this went on until I think for nearly half a year.”… an alumnus turns the clock back to 1958 to share with us recollections of his student days under Bro. Alphonsus Chee.

ImageAbout five decades ago, Pulau Tikus was a sleepy, dull place with a small population, either dealers in small retail trade or average wage earners attracted by cheap accommodation and cost of living.  No industries except temples and churches. There was a small mission school, SXBS, with not more than 2 classes for each standard,  catering  for  poor,  average  pupils  mostly  from  the  surrounding areas, Tanjung Tokong and Tanjung Bungah.

Most of these pupils loathe teaching and are more interested in catching spiders, worms and fighting fishes or involved in other more adventurous activities than books. The teachers posted there just have to do their job.

In 1958, I was in Std 5 A, under Bro Alphonsus Chee, then a young, handsome man in his twenties.  He looked like a Chinese but could not understand our dialect - hokkien  and  it  was  only  recently  that I knew he was brought up in Ipoh where the dialect was different.

I remember vividly like it was yesterday that each time he came to the class I would be shivering in my pants.  I never had any love for studying and each time when I reached home I threw my school bag in the shop and went out, roaming with my school mates, seeking more interesting pastimes.  I never did the work assigned to the class and never open the books to read. Each week report card had a string of marks in red and each Monday I had to face Bro. Alphonsus.  I was a stubborn boy and  no  amount  of  scolding  by brother could change my habits.  It was a test of patience, and this went on until I think for nearly half a year.

Of course, the bigger brother had an advantage over me.  His favourite teaching technique was to ask the pupils to form a square in the classroom, with him sitting in the center desk and teaching, asking questions and those who volunteered to answer correctly would have a chance to sit in his place.  Needless to say I never had a chance to sit each time he taught, save for the bell.  I cannot count the number of times brother had slapped me each time I did not do what he instructed.  Brother had also many times detained me, forcing me to write out what was in the books.  One day I felt he lost his temper because he insisted me to write out the whole geography text:"Travels Around The World" over the weekend and he checked it the coming Monday. Of course I could not complete the piece and my mother insisted my younger sister to stay late at night to continue, as she was in the afternoon session.  I was a hard core, but Brother did not give up.

Yes, Bro Alphonsus is the only brother who has ever slapped me, the only brother who insisted that I had to submit to his way, the only brother who keep on telling me that in a year's time I had to sit for MSSEE, the only teacher whom I feared.

Today, I have a passion for teaching because Brother has led me to this noble profession.  Today I am what I am because of Brother.  I shudder to think what I would be, an uneducated, wild and unforgiving street urchin if not for the invaluable Christian education.  I cannot forget the moral biblical story for 5 minutes in the morning quiet time.  Today I find peace that transcends all understanding because of the discipline and examples of Brother and the missionary education. I remember the happiest moment was when my parents were proud that I was miraculously among the top three for the MSSEE in our school.  How could I do it, without Brother's "torture"?

Thank you, Brother and I salute you.  I hope you will always be healthy and have your annual reunion with all in Malaysia every year for many, many more years.  I thank you that you never forget to send me greetings each Chinese New Year, Easter and Christmas.

Goh Kok Khin

Acknowledgement with thanks: Mr. Goh Kok Khin & SXI - A Pictorial History 1852-1992

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