There are many problems in life that you will never have immediate solutions to; but so long as we sincerely and whole-heartedly put our efforts into them, the results will surely show one day.
This was a lesson I learnt from a story of a boy named Lin, his mother, and his teacher.
When Lin first returned to visit his primary school three years after his graduation, we could hardly believe that he had grown into the mature and responsible young adult we now saw.
He was now just about to enter junior college, and had returned specifically to visit Ms. Li, a former teacher of his. Many of us teachers were surprised at how much he had changed.
As a child, Lin had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Back in primary school, he was easily distracted during lessons and often wandered around the classroom, distracting his classmates.
Because of this, Ms. Li would often end up having counselling sessions with him.
He also had reading difficulties and often handed in his homework late, so teachers would often have to spend time after school to give him remedial lessons.
Ms. Li would always tell me to ‘be responsible for my own actions’.
On top of this, he had no way of controlling his emotions, and would sometimes burst out in anger, shouting and swearing incessantly, or even begin bashing his head against the chalkboard.
Whenever these outbursts happened, it always took much effort from the teaching staff to calm him down again.
However, even when faced with such a difficult student, Ms. Li would always treat him with the greatest of patience and kindness.
After each of his outbursts, she would give him a good, long chiding, with the hope that he would be able to control himself better the next time. Even so, his disruptive acts continued right up until his graduation.
On the eve of his graduation, he was stopped by a prefect for running up an escalator in the opposite direction, and had another outburst.
So long as we sincerely and whole-heartedly put our efforts into our students, the results will surely show one day.
Unable to control his emotions, he turned and sprinted out of the school.
The teachers later found him standing at the side of a busy road, and none of them knew how best to approach him.
Ms. Li wanted to walk over and grab him by the arm, but whenever any one of the teachers tried to take a step forwards, Lin would warily take a step back. Whenever the teachers stepped back however, Lin would return to his original spot.
Just as the teachers had run out of ideas however, Lin’s mother arrived huffing and puffing. She calmed Lin down and coaxed him back into the school.
Although all the teachers knew that research had shown that the symptoms of ADHD could grow milder as the child grew up, nobody knew exactly when this would happen for Lin, and whether he would ever be able to lead a normal life.
Yet, three years later, he had returned a completely different person. He told me that he had managed to get into the second junior college of his choice, and that he had learned how to control his emotional outbursts.
Seeing how much he had changed, I asked him out of curiosity, “who did you feel the most gratitude over these years?”
“Ms. Li and my mother,” he replied. “They’ve always been there by my side, helping me. And every single time, they would explain nicely to me what I did wrong, afterwards.
“Back in primary school, Ms. Li would always tell me to ‘be responsible for my own actions’. My mom also cared for me a lot; she came to school with me almost every day when I was in primary one. Every time I had an emotional outburst, she would come to school for me, until I gradually learnt to control myself.
“Even now, she often calls me to ask if I’m doing well. I feel that I now have better control over my emotions, and I don’t get into conflicts with others so easily anymore.” I felt deeply reassured after hearing his words.
At this moment, his phone rang and he answered it. “Mom, I’m talking to Ms. De now, I’ll be heading home soon.”
Seeing how much he had changed, I realised that we as teachers may not be able to solve all our students’ problems; but so long as we sincerely and whole-heartedly put our efforts into them, the results will surely show one day.