High School Chronicles: I Was Branded an ‘Intellectual Outcast’!
I always had trouble in school. Not because I was not a good student, or overly-naughty or pelted the front-row kids with chewed paper pellets. In fact, I was all the contrary: bright and talented. The trouble was that I was pretty smart. I didn’t want to show off, so I’d often sit in silence.
Then, some other day, when one of my teachers would say something inaccurate, I would correct them. This moment would be the end of my peace. Eventually, after a few episodes, I was “noticed”. Since then, I would be the official “smart ass” which also subtly means – The Outcast.
I would later join Ikuu High School for my O-levels. Here, I met three teachers who managed to teach the well-read kid that I was, and who largely became my career mentors.
A History teacher – a wonderful woman named Ms. Norah. She had extraordinary wisdom, who’d patiently listen to my half-baked theories that the Egyptian pyramids had exact replicas in Cambodia. Yes, that’s right. I had stumbled into a hard cover with a beautiful mouldy smell at the school library.
Our English and Literature teacher, called Mr. Kibonge. A pleasant, well-read and relatively elderly gentleman. He often reminded me of my father, especially when he’d get nostalgic narrating their escapades in the glorious campus riots of the 80’s as a student at Nairobi University.
He made campus seem extremely cool.
The third teacher taught us Biology. A bright, lanky gentleman who helped me believe in my talent and abilities. His classes were fun, he’d literally sing us through difficult classes. Like those unnecessarily-difficult binomial nomenclature classes we all hated.
These noble teachers didn’t take my questions as insults. A lot of times, I would question their actions.
“Why do you do this? Why do you do that?”
Or, more embarrassingly, their grasp of knowledge.
“I’ve read in the book it was this… or this… and you said that… and that…”
I would even correct the poor teachers in front of their students. They never took it personally, and even if I hurt their ego, they never showed it. Instead, they encouraged me to go further, try to complete my knowledge, and always seek the right answer.
As teachers, they never saw me as pestering, or felt their power would be destroyed, or imbalanced, by my questions. They literally behaved as “information vessels”.
I would later graduate with a Bachelor of Education degree. I’m presently on my fifth year under the Teachers Service Commission (TSC). As fresh graduates join my school, I have a professional, social and self-empowerment pep talk laid out.
First, to remember that a good teacher values knowledge more than his ego, and is willing to expand his abilities even if it means acknowledging he is not superior to his students. Next, the importance of a good banking partner to walk them through their financial goals with family and investment after employment.
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