“What will you do after Tamasco?” I asked Suli on my second day there. Classes had finished for the day, but it wasn’t yet time for dinner. The boys of Wemah House, Compound 4, room 3–myself and Suli included–were all resting in the afternoon heat.
“As for me,” began Suli, “after I have finished at Tamasco, I should involve myself in the teaching profession. By His grace.” Teaching? He had my interest. I had to warn myself not to pepper him with questions, but to move slowly with my inquiries instead.
“Why?” I continued. Suli smiled.
“You know, for humans, it’s important not to be greedy,” he explained, “and to keep your knowledge to yourself, well, that’s greedy. I think it’s important to share to help the next generation be as wealthy as we are.”
I was very impressed with the thoughtful answer such a young man (age 16) could provide. Clearly, Suli had thought this one out and that made me really happy. I couldn’t help but hope that he would do well enough on the WASSCEs to get into University or a teacher training college. The chances are slim, but Suli is very serious about his studies.
Immediately before leaving for pre-dep in Toronto, I was having a bit of a life direction crisis. Nothing serious; just what I would consider normal musings on the subject of the world and my contribution therein. Basically, Science isn’t cutting it for me anymore. When I was choosing what I’d study in university, it seemed like it would fulfill me, but now I’m not so sure. Science really is just about the pursuit of knowledge, without any real consideration for the end uses of that knowledge. For me, this distinct lack of people focus won’t do. (For my scientist friends reading this, please understand that this is just my take on the field).
Thankfully, I’m also doing Engineering, right? It’s true that Engineering is all about end uses of knowledge and that it is people-centric. Or at least that it ought to be. I would be able to take solace in this fact, if I was at all satisfied in any way with the Engineering education I’m getting. Frankly, I’m not. Two years in and I’ve yet to do any design work, group projects, or anything really intellectually stimulating. I have a big fear that the Engineering education I’m getting is adequate preparation for entry into the profession.
Okay, so maybe this time around, the crisis was a little more serious. I told myself not to worry, though; I’d just escape to Ghana and things would sort themselves out.
Suli’s words on my second day of my school stay probably held a lot more significance than he thought. The work I’ve been doing this summer has really highlighted the importance of good teachers and the impact those teachers can have on students’ lives. This was highlighted in the classroom on that day with a stark contrast between two classes. One Master was absent and had given her notes to a student to dictate to the class. The Master immediately following, on the other hand, taught a kick-ass, stimulating class. The difference in the engagement of the students was huge.
I’ve always told myself that I’ll retire into Teaching. I had amazing teachers throughout Elementary and High School who inspired me to choose that path. But I always wanted a “real” career first. Teaching, I felt, didn’t wield enough potential for impact to interest me. Now I’m not so sure if I was right.
During my coaching chat that night, I realized that I wouldn’t be where I am without good teachers. Reader, I beg–really think about that. I can count the number of teachers who have significantly influenced my life on both hands. I wonder how many Engineers it would take to have a similar impact? My guess is that the answer is many, many more than 10. Maybe, just maybe, Teaching is a good way for me to create a lot of positive change in the world.
I’m not saying I’m set on teaching. Who knows what will happen in the next couple of years of my degree? But the crisis has ended, that’s for sure.