By Sze Wong - MontessoriPod Founder
My mom retired as a kindergarten administrator after 50 plus years as a front-line educator. In 1965, one of her friends asked her to accompany her to an interview for a kindergarten teacher position. Her intention was only to keep her friend company. In the end, they both got the job. Mom had been teaching even since.Mom loved her profession.
My Dad joked that she could never stop thinking about teaching. In the 80s she started to introduce elements of Montessori education into the kindergarten curriculum. While most other kindergarteners in Hong Kong were still sitting in rows, she introduced groups to her classroom and allowed students to have self-guided activities. Mom embodied what it means to be a life-long learner. Although she was never able to go to college after high school, she continued to study. She finally was able to get into college and received her higher education certificate when she was over 50 years old. When she retired, the little school house that she started her career with had grown to over 1000 students.
My mom was able to achieve so much because she was allowed to shine. She was supported by her boss and colleagues. Year after year, she would learn about new teaching methods and would start experimenting within her school. She was respected in the community and she was well paid. She was extremely lucky.
Many other teachers were not - and still are not - as lucky as my mom. I have met many great teachers who eventually left the teaching profession because of frustration. They’re frustrated because the system is too rigid. Frustrated because they were not allowed to teach the way they see fit. Frustrated because they were forced to “teach to the test.” Frustrated because they were not being paid enough. Frustrated because they were not able to afford to teach.
I want to change that. I want to give the kind of support that my mom received to other teachers. I want teachers to shine as much as my mom did. I want to let teachers teach.
Any parent will say they want the best for their children. Yet, somehow we don’t treat the people who have the biggest impact on us - teachers - with the support and respect they deserve… we give them the leftovers instead of the best of the best.
I envision a world where teachers are just as respected as lawyers and doctors. I see a world where teachers are paid as well as software engineers and architects. I see a world where the best and the brightest young people are eager to go into the teaching professions.