First, watch this documentary Children Full of Life. Taking 40 minutes of your time for this is worth it.
While the documentary focused on the kids, I would like to put the focus more on Mr. Kanamori. It was 2002, and I was in primary 5, a year older than these children. I felt that they were more mature than me then. I was filled with envy after watching Mr. Kanamori teaching the students. I never had a teacher in school who taught us about living life. The most I had was civics and moral education, which was nothing more than textbook regurgitation. I had good teachers of course, but none actively taught me important life lessons, much less interacting so closely with us. If I had such teachers, I wouldn’t have been sent for caning three times. I was a very naughty boy then, but I wasn’t stubborn. As an immature boy, I could have changed for the better if someone was there to guide me.
It wasn’t only until secondary three that I received guidance and good influence from a great teacher who taught me life values outside school. My parents forced me to attend such classes in the weekends because all they could do then was to discipline me physically, which had since lost its effect as I grew older. I could tell they didn’t know how to discipline me without getting physical while I was in the rebellious stage.
The Singapore education system should have more of such teachers, instead of just delivering the subject content in class. Many teachers nowadays are just doing it for a job. Some say that they like teaching, but this view is very selfish because you are only doing what you like. A great teacher doesn’t only just like his job. He likes to see his students grow, in all aspects from intelligence to managing emotions. He likes to develop them. Every single lesson he conducts, and every single act he carries out should have rationales behind them and things for students to learn (non-academically). If only all teachers can achieve this..
Mr. Kanamori allowed his students to pour their hearts out in class and taught them to accept the differences among themselves. He used hidden connotations to bring out the best in each of his students. He knew his students very well and acted like a father-figure. In the case of the bullying, he was able to teach the students that something unrelated cannot be used to deal with a problem, while at the same time, made the bully realised his mistake without actually scolding him head-on. Also, which school in Singapore actually allows you to go out and play for lessons?
The most touching part I thought was the farewell to Mifuyu’s and Tsubasa’s father. These kids actually came up with the idea to deliver a gigantic message to their fathers in heaven. They worked together to complete engraving the message. The power of care, love, and a great teacher…
光芙由と翼のお父さんへ、二人はいつも元気だ。わたしたちがそばにいるから、安心してね。(Mifuyu to Tsubasa no otousan e, futari wa itsumo genki da. Watashi tachi ga sobani iru kara, anshin shite ne.)
To the fathers of Mifuyu and Tsubasa, both of them have been fine (and will always be). Please have a peace of mind as we are always with them.
I believe their fathers had seen this message.