In the name of Allah, Most Gracious.
Yesterday was my birthday. I would like to thank everyone who wished me well. All your prayers and wishes are wonderful birthdays gifts and I hope all your prayers and wishes effect you too. Personally, I think the best gift a person can have on his birthday is the opportunity to breathe and love everyone. And for that, I thank Allah for "the gift". :')
Today, I attended a seminar on Integrity. The content was supposedly good but the planning was not so good. When planning a seminar, you have to consider your audience first. Be practical and considerate - just who in the world can sit still for 6 hours straight only listening? Humans, youth like me especially, have short attention span. Hence, recess should be considered in between talks lest the audience gets too tired and sleep through the seminar. Just my opinion, really.
All in all, the seminar was good. I love the last speaker. He has the wisdom though his presentation was somewhat . . . monotonous. No jokes cracked and most audience fell asleep. But I do not blame him given he presented the last when the audience was all mentally and physically tired. But he did left me with the best impressions out of his wise speech. I remember him talked about a wonderful story he read from Reader's Digest about a story of teacher who managed to touched his students' heart.
Even though he did not elaborate on the story, I think I would like to re-write the story from my own perspective here. :')
Flowers in the Classroom
Do you like flowers? I love flowers, especially sunflowers, and I'd love to share my story why I so love flowers.
Many years ago, I was one of the students whom you would label as delinquents. Most people do not put much hope nor trust in youth like me. Even teachers in my all-boy school back then gave up on me and my classmates who the teachers labelled as rebels and delinquents.
One day, a new teacher was sent to our school. We never cared who he was because we thought all teachers were the same. They gave up on us, entering class doing their routines of chalk-and-talk. They never cared to ask what we want in the class, yet we were scolded and humiliated in the class if we were to fall asleep or do any of those "misbehaviours" they said. So, why should we care about this one new teacher?
The next day after the new teacher was transferred to our school, I was sent to see the school's counsellor by my English teacher. I was rude, so he said. But he was being rude to me first, that was what I wanted to say but I was not given the opportunity to speak out. After counselling session ended, the councillor told me that the new teacher will take over the current English teacher's lesson. I was not surprised as I know how she hated our class so much.
THE new teacher entered our class the next day. We did not care about him and continued making noise. To our surprise, the teacher entered the class and sat by his table watching us without scolding and shouting at us to be quiet. The loud noise in the classroom was reduced to whispers and we tried to "discuss" with one another about this anomaly.
Suddenly, the teacher stood up and went to the blackboard. He wrote "NOSNIHCTUH MADA" and returned to his table and resumed his action of watching us silently. Five minutes of murmuring between us passed by before I dared myself to raise my hand and asked,
"What's that on the board? It's not in English, is it?"
The teacher smiled and responded, "Ah, not bad! You know how to read after all." He clapped his hands and continued, "but these two are English words."
"Really?" the whole class was almost dumbfounded and staring at him. No eyes blinked.
"Yes, it is." He smiled again. "You all think I'm not making any sense here, right?"
We nodded our heads vigorously. Of course, he wasn't making any sense. How in the world those weird words are English words?
The new teacher laughed and said, "Why don't you try reading this from right to left? Anyone wants to try?"
A boy from the back of the class, Harris, wanted to try. He read slowly and found out that "Adam Hutchinson" was written on the board. The teacher smiled and politely introduced himself. Adam Hutchinson was his name, engaged to an accountant, and would be teaching us English language. And he loved flowers.
"No worries, boys. We are NOT going to learn all those boooooring grammar stuffs today." He said as he neared me and continued, "What we are going to do today is, learn about each other. What's your name, young man? Care to tell us MORE about yourself?"
That day, all we learnt was about ourselves. I never did know that Harris has travelled Europe before. Nor did I know that Matt was the top-sprinter when he was in kindergarten. Honestly, we did not know much about ourselves. That day, for the first time in many years, we had someone who listened and wanted to listen to us.
The next day, we had a hell of a scoldings and name-callings during History lesson. I had no idea what made the History teacher so angry when she entered the class and sleeping in her class only resulted in ticking her off even more. We actually were anticipating for Mr. Adam's lesson but with all those scoldings and name-callings, can you imagine how we would feel and look at that time? Yes, were all frowning and feeling grumpy. Sorry, Mr. Adam.
Mr. Adam entered our class looking all sweaty and we could see that his blue shirt had the trace of fresh earth on it. But I guess we were all too deep in emotions that we overlooked all these details. The English teacher looked puzzled when he entered the classroom.
"I guess you boys just had a bad day today, eh?" The question was left unanswered.
Nobody said anything but he continued, "we are going to learn new vocabulary today. But not in this class when the atmosphere is like this." Most of us started to pay our attention to him. He smiled as he asked, "do you like flowers?"
Mr. Adam took us to the school's backyard. The ground there was not used and left unattended for many years and it surprised us to see that the same backyard was now clean.
"Yes, I cleared all the weeds and bushes here," declared Mr. Adam as if he could read our expression. "And I want to plant sunflowers here."
As the English teacher thrust a spade into the ground, he told us to gather around him while he whispered, "I want to share a secret with all of you. Can you all keep secrets, boys?" We all nodded. "Good! I like you all. Now, my fiancée loves sunflower and I'm planning to give these flowers when I propose her for a marriage later. So, do you mind helping me? When the sunflowers grow big enough, you can give them to your girlfriend too."
Nobody went against him. Everyone felt special and trusted the moment he said he was sharing his secret with us. Everyone wanted to help clear the ground and plant the sunflower seeds. We had so much fun gardening at the backyard while learning new vocabulary about sunflowers. Mr. Adam told us that each of us can take one pot of flower and plant the seed in the classroom, but with one strict condition: We have to take care of the flower as if we are taking care of ourselves. If we failed to do that, Mr. Adam will confiscate the flower from us. We agreed and took our own flower pot to class. We were laughing the whole day even though we were scolded again by other teachers who were angry at our filthy clothes covered in mud and soil. But we paid no attention to them because we were happy.
MANY weeks passed by. We attended to our own sunflowers as if they are our girlfriends. From merely seeds, the sunflowers now have grown big enough that the other teachers who scolded us for bringing in the pots into classroom were now fascinated by their beauty. And we took pride in that.
In one of his grammar lessons, Mr. Adam told us that her fiancée had agreed to a marriage when he proposed to her with the sunflowers we helped him to plant. He thanked us for helping and invited us to attend the wedding. We felt honoured but more importantly, we were happy that we felt that we had been useful to him. Mr. Adam wrapped the lesson that day with a speech that touched everyone's heart:
"I love planting flowers. It takes a lot of efforts, patience and perseverance to make sure the seed turns into beautiful flowers. You have to be responsible to your flowers. You need to water them everyday, give them enough fertiliser and make sure they are safe from pests. You experienced it yourselves, don't you boys? All your efforts and patience were paid off in the end, right? I heard Jake got a girlfriend thanks to his sunflower. Yes, that's why I love flowers. They teach me to be responsible, to be patient and never give up on future. Each of you are my flower seeds, and I'd love to see you grow into beautiful flowers in many years to come. I know you boys can do it and I believe in your potential. So don't give up on yourself and try your best in everything despite what other people say about you. Even bad seeds can grow beautiful flowers if you have faith in them."
That very speech brought us all to tears and today, most of us are successful in our own fields. And we still have this habit of keeping a pot of flower in our room to commemorate the English teacher who changed our lives with his sunflowers.
Now, do you love flowers?
This story shares some of my views about what and how a teacher should treat his or her students. Just my two-pence, though.
"O Allah! I seek refuge in You from any prideful thoughts and I pray for the barakah of knowledge you bestowed on me so that I can share and spread it because of You and for the love of knowledge, not for any other reasons."