The job of a teacher is tough – what with settling groups of rambunctious students back to their seats after recess, explaining the nature of covalent bonds for the n
th time in the past fifteen minutes, or even appeasing angry parents berating teachers for confiscating their child's phone in class – the efforts of our brave and resilient mentors often go unrecognised.
As Teachers’ Day draws near, this is our time to honour the hard work of our educators, and what better way to do that than with stories straight from the classrooms? Here's our list of recommended reads for all teachers out there:
Those Who Cant, Teach by Haresh Sharma
Who said students are the only ones undergoing huge amounts of stress? Teachers are too! Shining the spotlight on the madcap lives of secondary school teachers and students, Those Who Can't, Teach showcases the daily (and frustrating!) struggles of the teachers trying to nurture and educate while their students prefer to hang out and "chillax".
First staged in 1990 and subsequently in 2010 to full houses at the Singapore Arts Festival, Those Who Can't, Teach is a classic Singaporean theatre piece by one of Singapore's most celebrated playwrights and Cultural Medallion winner, Haresh Sharma.Teaching Cats to Jump Hoops by You Jin
From Cultural Medallion recipient Tham Yew Jin (pen name You Jin), comes a collection of stories that will be sure to tug at your heartstrings. From a chain-smoking student with a violent past, to a boy who sees a raging fire each time he opens his exam booklet, this collection of funny and heartwarming stories revolves around a teacher who is confronted with misfits and loners, rebellious dropouts and overbearing, even abusive parents. Yet she remains determined to reach out to them.
Based on the author's real-life experiences as a teacher in Singapore, Teaching Cats to Jump Hoops
brings to light the struggles and stresses that teachers, students and parents face in the pursuit of excellence in education.
This is Where I Won't Be Alone by Inez Tan
The dilemma that 24-year-old Social Studies teacher Cheryl Lim faces may elicit a groan from some of you teachers out there.
In "Lee Kuan Yew is Not Always the Answer", one of the tales in this short story collection, Cheryl finds herself almost pulling her hair out handling a bunch of stubborn know-it-all misfits. Getting caught within her students' strange obsession with the founding father of modern Singapore, not only does she have to endure her students' bizarre skits about his resurrection, but also the exasperated complaints of other teachers! How can Cheryl begin to convince her students that Lee Kuan Yew is not always the answer to everything? A national bestseller, Inez Tan's This is Where I Won't Be Alone explores the deep yearning for connection in their relentless search for a place to call home.
Impractical Uses of Cake by Yeoh Jo-Ann
Teachers are thought to be the perfect role model for students and shining exemplars of discipline ... at least that's what they portray in the classrooms; their lives outside of school are different things altogether.
Meet Sukhin, a 35-year-old teacher whose life is just ... okay. Like his school's timetable, his life runs like clockwork: Reading, working, and visiting his parents' to rearrange his piles of "collectibles". Lather, rinse and repeat. He has only one friend, another teacher who has managed to force Sukhin into a friendship by sheer doggedness.
While on an errand one afternoon in Chinatown, he encounters a homeless person who recognises him. This chance reunion turns Sukhin’s well-planned life upside down, and the pair learns about love and sacrifice over their shared fondness for cake.
Winner of the 2019 Epigram Books Fiction Prize, Yeoh Jo-Ann's Impractical Uses of Cake is a national bestselling novel that "exposes the cracks in Singapore's gleaming facade with wit and compassion".
The Last Lesson of Mrs De Souza by Cyril Wong
As much as teachers shape the way students grow and mature, so do the students in the way they influence the teacher's perception of themselves and the world.
One last time and on her birthday, Rose de Souza is returning to school to give a final lesson to her classroom of secondary school boys before retiring from her long teaching career. What ensues is an unexpected confession in which she recounts the tragic and traumatic story of Amir, a student from her past who overturned the way she saw herself as a teacher, and changed her life forever.
The stunning first novel from two-time winner of the Singapore Literature Prize, Cyril Wong, The Last Lesson of Mrs de Souza
has been called a "tour de force", and an "exceptional examination of the power of choice and the unreliability of memory".