By STEVEN WINDUO
Teachers are duty bound to ensure children receive their education through mentoring and innovative pedagogic methodologies.
Teachers bring to their classroom their knowledge, skills, and passion to transfer knowledge from higher order to the children in their care.
International Teachers’ Day falling on 05th October 2017, must involve acknowledgement of all teachers who make a difference in a person’s life.
I recognize the teachers who first introduced me to creative writing, literature, and expressive arts. These teachers are special to me today because their unlimited patience and courage to work with my limitations has produced the writer and scholar I am today.
My teachers gave all they know and possess in their powers the incredible knowledge of the written word and what it can do once mastered and executed. It is incredible because those who have such knowledge are game changers and transformers of lives in all corners of the earth.
In this acknowledgement of teachers on this special day I think about the teachers I had in my Grade 11 and 12 years between 1982-1983. The teachers who remain my close friends today deserve to be so because they have in one way or another set the foundation that led me into studying Literature and English at the University of Papua New Guinea. Many of us were in the age bracket of 18-19 years old, perfect timing for introduction of new ideas, knowledge, ways of knowing, and futures yet to be realized. All it took for the mix was excellent teachers who could change the course of history through their professionalism and love of teaching wonderful ideas of history, science, social science, language, literature, expressive arts, and agriculture.
My peers became nation builders and leaders in different works of life. Our lives were very much prepared with the greatest care and intellectual input from our teachers.
Professor Craig Volker and Theresa Dingu taught me English. Christine Sanderson taught me Creative Writing in Grade 12. Roselyn Everest, taught me Expressive Arts, and guided me in writing my first children’s storybook entitled Jupi and the Magic Feather. The first short stories I wrote were also submitted to the National Literature Competitions that the Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies organized in 1983. The Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies (IPNGS) that I would discover later was an establishment linked to the earlier decades under the leadership of Ulli Beier and Georgina Beier.
No one thought I would end up studying creative writing, literature, and English as a career. Literature and creative writing were introduced to me as an optional course, not as a core course. Literature was not part of the curriculum at that time. I remember Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and The Sea, William Golding’s The Animal Farm, George Orwell’s 1984, and Ignatius Kilage’s My Mother Calls Me Yaltep. These books remain memorable to me for as long as I know.
Gems of creative intelligence were uncovered in the creative writing classes as well as in English classes under the mentorship of Craig Volker and Theresa Dingu.
One of the first short stories I wrote for the National Literature Competition in 1983 was published in a school anthology some years later. The story “A Night of Bad Luck” stands as the earliest record of my written work. It was good that the story was published the way it did because I would have lost it. Thanks to Chris Sanderson for editing and publishing the story in the anthology The Old Wise Bird: Creative Writing by Grade 12 Students of Aiyura National High School 1983 and 1984. Nancy Kunnett typed the stories for the anthology.
Aiyura provided me the foundations to develop as a person, writer, and an intellectual. My mentors and teachers inspired me so much that I became a lecturer and professor at the university level, spending 25 years of that at the University of Papua New Guinea, with occasional international visiting professorships held at the University of Minnesota and the University of Hawaii, both in the USA.
Aiyura prepared me for higher responsibilities in later life. The lessons I had in Aiyura served as the guiding principles in my life. I learnt that I can dream big dreams in life.
Our powerful principal, Daniel Kunnet, inserted in us the American dream. His rendition of Martin Luther King Junior’s famous speech impressed us the Aiyura students to dream. Since that day Principal Kunnett’s dream of Aiyura and Aiyura National High School students was delivered, I too was wired up to dream. Much later in life I was to read the Martin Luther King Jr “I Have a Dream” speech to fully understand the wider implications of the dream. It was the dream that also included people like me who would end up living and studying in the USA. I was part of that dream.
I remain indebted to all my teachers for setting me on the right course to achieve my dreams.
I acknowledge the principals and teachers in our schools today who inspire their students to dream big dreams. Teachers serve as the bridge between the here and now as well as between poverty and prosperity. The key to a person’s success is the input of an excellent teacher. It is said 80 percent of a student’s success is a teacher’s input and 20 percent is a students’ work.
I acknowledge the teachers who are and have taught my children and grand children. Teaching as a job, is not a walk-in-the park type of career. It is a gift that God gave, for individuals to use to make a difference in the lives of others. I value the input of various teachers in educating my children and grand children.
Many teachers have given their lives to build this nation. We must honor and respect them by starting a PNG Best Teachers Award system, if none exist.
God Bless all the teachers of the world.
By STEVEN WINDUO