03 Oct 2016 Genuine Education Begins with Life to Life Interactions
Chong Pang Chapter
Young Men Division Chapter Leader
I was bullied often during my primary and secondary school days. I often wondered: “What is the purpose of my existence in this world?” Having no answers to this fundamental question left me with overwhelming feelings of unhappiness and worthlessness.
When I was studying in University, I took part in SSA Student Division (SD) activities. In SD, we were regularly reminded to constantly ask ourselves, “For what purpose should one cultivate wisdom?” They also encouraged us to have big dreams in life and urged us to work hard during our youth to fulfil these dreams.
These words became treasures to me. For once, I felt hopeful that indeed, my existence in this world has meaning and I must put in effort to discover it. I began pondering hard on my mission and my dreams. After graduating from university, I made the decision to become a teacher. Though teaching was my career choice, I faced many challenges.
All these stemmed from my lack of self-confidence, a fundamental weakness of mine all these years. Constant feelings of incompetency and fear created a big gap between my students and myself. I was constantly worried about their perceptions of me. Feedbacks from the students on my inability to deliver a lesson effectively, often leave me very disheartened and my first year of teaching ended with me feeling defeated.
I made a determination to take concrete action to overcome my lack of self-confidence. Through reading books by President Ikeda like The New Human Revolution, Light of Education and others, I learnt that the crucial element in Soka education lies in the quality of the relationship between teacher and student. President Ikeda wrote: “People are shaped by people. There is no genuine education without earnest life to life interaction and inspiration.”
I began my second year of teaching by chanting at least 20 minutes of daimoku every morning. I prayed resolutely that I must improve in my interactions with my students, showing them genuine care and concern, and to show passion and enthusiasm in conducting my lessons.
Instead of being bothered by what students thought of me, I took concrete actions to improve my delivery of the lessons. I also engaged my students in dialogues whenever I have the opportunity.
When I learnt that President Ikeda would often write messages to encourage members who are facing challenges in their lives, instead of reprimanding students who have done badly in their examinations, I began to write messages of encouragement to them. When students shared with me their dreams, I would also write to them, encouraging them to pursue their passion. As I strove to have heart to heart connections with my students, they began to respond positively and became more attentive and engaged in learning.
President Ikeda once said, “An inner revolution is the most fundamental and at the same time the ultimate revolution for engendering change in all things.” I managed to make a positive change in my environment by first changing myself. Going to work every day is a great joy to me!
(The above experience first appeared in SSA Times issue 526.)