For­ward, the Light Bri­gade!

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IT’S THE week­end once again and as al­ways let me tone down the se­ri­ous­ness of this sec­tion of our daily pa­per by veer­ing away from pol­i­tics just for our week­end is­sue.

Let me share to you then one of my fond­est mem­o­ries while I was still a teacher to give you a glimpse of what a typ­i­cal teacher jug­gles in his or her pro­fes­sion.

I al­ways be­lieve that the best of my stu­dents come out from un­guarded mo­ments. Cre­ativ­ity al­ways springs out of free­dom. This is why I never dic­tate my stu­dents or play strict.

Yet I found my­self in such shoe on one un­for­get­table oc­ca­sion. It started with my frus­tra­tions over how a few of my stu­dents ru­ined our spon­sored school pro­gram by show­ing up on the day of the pre­sen­ta­tion with­out prac­tice. What made it worse was that they never felt a bit of guilt or re­morse for the in­jus­tice they had done to those who worked so hard to mas­ter the steps only to look silly on stage.

As a teacher I could just not let it go. Good thing there was an­other up­com­ing com­pe­ti­tion which I took as an op­por­tu­nity to let them ex­pe­ri­ence team­work and learn from it. I knew that if they could just taste a sense of vic­tory over some­thing they work so hard for, then per­haps they will see team­work in a bet­ter light. My only fear was that if they fail then they might end up just giv­ing up on those val­ues. Los­ing was there­fore not an op­tion, or at least just at that spe­cific com­pe­ti­tion.

I was aim­ing for a mir­a­cle, they were known to be the worst class in their batch; with only two days to prac­tice we were bound to fail. But I’m a be­liever. With all fac­tors con­sid­ered there was only one way to pull it off; tyranny.

I tell you it was not a pleas­ant road. I was hated. But as they slowly saw how they have im­proved in their prac­tices, they be­gan to own it. By the sec­ond day, they wanted to taste

vic­tory more than I do. Then their ideas started to come out; from cos­tumes to move­ment, and be­fore I knew it I have made tyrants out of them. They were stricter than I was dur­ing prac­tice. They couldn’t tol­er­ate medi­ocrity any­more from best. At their that class­mates. point, I knew They my did part not was set­tle over. for less than their

On the day of the com­pe­ti­tion, the ten­sion built up, the an­tic­i­pa­tion grew, and even I who have wit­nessed these things year in and year out could not help but get ex­cited. I was dead quiet as I waited for their turn to present.

Then the lights turned off. The stage went pitch-black. For a few sec­onds, there was ab­so­lute si­lence. Lights turned back and sud­denly Car­los ap­peared from nowhere run­ning to­wards the cen­ter, took a halt, looked be­hind to sig­nal ev­ery­one, then shouted from the top of his lungs “For­ward, the Light Bri­gade!”

We won! The only non-hon­ors class who won in the his­tory of that com­pe­ti­tion. I was sure that such vic­tory was a defin­ing mo­ment for them. It made them re­al­ize that if they put their fo­cus on a cer­tain task, ev­ery­thing is pos­si­ble.

Since then, their grades im­proved and their con­fi­dence boosted. They have learned to be­have as well. I’m sure they will not win all the time and they will have their shares of fail­ures too as we do. But I hope that when chal­lenges come their way, they will re­mem­ber that vic­tory and be con­fi­dent enough to shout “For­ward, the Light Bri­gade!”*

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