I never imagined that I would be teaching Chinese Calligraphy. I am not a calligrapher; I am not a teacher.
I was assisting my teacher who IS a master calligrapher by tutoring the newbies in class with their basic strokes, something that I wished someone had done for me. When I became a member of the University of the Third Age, I felt I needed to give something back to the organisation and with my teacher’s approval, started an Introduction to Chinese Calligraphy course, almost a decade ago. Later, when I was asked to offer courses at MOSAIC, a multicultural centre, I volunteered to teach English there.
Although I was trained by Adult Migrant Education Services to teach English to new migrants, Sun, the administrator at MOSAIC read my resumé and immediately insisted that I teach Chinese Calligraphy instead. So one way or another, I find myself teaching Chinese Calligraphy though I have not mastered the art; that would take a lifetime of focus and I am too distracted for that. I am an urban orchardist, a story teller, a poet and many other things and I enjoy volunteering, so I do.
Some of my detractors think me arrogant to be teaching the art, but what I do is simply sharing what I’d learnt, for free. Some of my friends think that they’re better at it than I am and THEY wouldn’t even dare teach it; what makes me think I’m qualified to do so? One of my students also challenged me about it, but I noticed that she has enrolled for a third term; what’s going on?
I remain humble. Humility is not about thinking less of oneself, but thinking of oneself less often. I think about the students when I teach. What do they need to know? How can they be motivated? What sort of course material can I source for their benefit? The fact that I am neither a calligrapher nor a professional teacher does not enter my head.
That’s a fact; so what?
My new Chinese Calligraphy for Beginners course starts May 3; half the enrolled students have attended my classes for more than two terms. They and students like them are the reasons for my being a teacher; it’s not about me.