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Being a teacher is a 'fulfilling' experience

China Daily | Updated: 2018-09-11 09:45
Xue Fagen [File photo]

In the 1990s, no child in Xue Fagen's classroom knew about Aesop's fable The Fox and the Grapes, which for Xue was disconcerting.

The year 2008 marked the 30th year since Xue started teaching Chinese at Shengze Experimental Primary School, a rural school in Jiangsu province. Two decades ago, he was the youngest national senior teacher in Jiangsu.

When he taught Aesop's fable again in 2017, students rushed to reply, and some answers surprised him.

The "sour grapes therapy" has been applied in hospitals, a student said, having done research on the internet. Another student said the fox could not eat the grapes but the excuses he gives serve as a kind of wisdom.

"In the internet era, our kids' capacity and consciousness of learning are far beyond our imagination," Xue said. "Kids are changing so quickly. A qualified teacher must always be curious and engaging."

"Many famous schools in urban areas have offered me a much higher salary," he said. "But I think rural areas need good teachers, so I decided to stay."

Several of Xue's students come from migrant worker families that face extreme financial difficulties. Xue said his school paid for their uniforms and fees for activities.

He said nothing makes him happier than when his former students return to the rural areas to work.

"Some have even become respectable teachers in our school," he said.

It has been two years and five months since Chen Liqun, a former principal from East China, taught at a high school in Guizhou province.

Among the first batch of college graduates after China's reform and opening-up in the late 1970s, Chen started to teach at a rural school immediately after completing college.

He became principal in 1985. Before his retirement, Chen headed one of the country's best high schools, Hangzhou Xuejun, in Zhejiang province.

Chen accepted the job of principal in Guizhou at zero pay in 2016.

"I decided to volunteer in one of China's most impoverished areas because I was born in a rural area too," Chen said. "Every child has just one life. It's only through studying hard that they can create a better life in the future. I don't want their life journey to be made in vain."

Chen said the students in Guizhou are smart. "I hope to help them transform intelligence into wisdom," he said.

His contract in Guizhou was scheduled to end in 2017, but he said the eagerness of his students touched him, so he decided to stay.

Through Chen's efforts, few students drop out now. "There are also an increasing number of fathers and mothers who attend parents' meetings nowadays," he said.

Tao Wenzhao, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, is nearly 80 years old and has taught undergraduates continuously at Xi'an Jiaotong University.

Tao said teachers have a huge influence on their students' lives. "Inspired by the head teacher at my high school, I did well on my graduate entrance exams and then studied overseas."

Tao often works until 2 am. He once had cataract surgery and delivered a lecture the same day. His students intervened and asked him to get more rest.

"Being a teacher is very fulfilling, especially when students go on to accomplish something great," Tao said.




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