Meeting the Challenge

One day, as I was supervising study time, a student asked me about my academic background. The question arose because college advisor officers were coming to the school the same week, and I was reading the questions prepared by the students for the occasion.

I told this student that I had done a Bachelor’s degree in literature, a Master’s degree, also in literature, and a Ph. D. in creative writing. When I was finished, I didn’t get the usual admiring look I’m used to. Instead, the student stared at me as if I was a complete idiot and said: “So … what are you doing here?”

Trying to remain as pedagogical as possible, I took a deep breath and replied with the cheesiest answer ever: “Because I was disappointed by my previous job as a university professor and was looking for something else.”

Well, let me tell you that I didn’t convince this student at all! However, my unconvincing little story gave me a lot to think of afterward, and I came up with two questions. Firstly, do our students really have the perception that they do not deserve educated teachers? Secondly, and directly related, do they not know that every single teacher at MPA is a college or university graduate?

We could also benefit from bouncing the students’ question back in the other direction. Instead of asking what I, as a teacher, am I doing at MPA, we could ask: What are the students looking for at MPA? Because, from my perspective, it seems that we teachers are ready to help them succeed in academics. But are they ready for that?

What I am saying is that we are ready for any kind of challenge that our students may bring along, and so they should be willing to fight for themselves as much as we fight for them when we try to reach out, to understand, to get the best out of them, to love each and every one of them.

So, I was caught off guard and I gave a poor answer. I would like to make up for that today by addressing the question and giving an answer to our community: we, as teachers, want to teach at MPA because, as Kirandeep Kaur, our Principal of Academics, told me once, it is easy to teach perfect students, but it is not easy to teach a large variety of them, with so many different linguistic, cultural, educational and personal backgrounds in one of the most challenging environments imaginable.

So, here is the answer, the right one:

We are teaching at MPA because we are willing to meet the challenge.

Meherpal Kaur