I remember clearly teaching my first lesson as a qualified teacher.
The community school (Qhakaza Secondary School) was housed in a coverted factory building that had been coverted into classrooms. Chemical toilets had been brought in for the students use and the walls had been painted black and white (the lower half black, the upper half white). The ground floor rooms had small, dust-covered windows while the basement had no natural light.
On my first teaching day, I descended the stairs to the basement with trepidation. I was a brand new 23 year old teacher who had had very little contact with people of other races. I was a child of Apartheid who was stepping into an unknown experience. I walked into the neon-lightened, airless room of my grade 12 class. A sea of fifty faces watched as I entered. I walked up to the front and began my first lesson: reading and answering a comprehension. After a while I got used to the intent faces watching me, listening in silence. The students were crowded around rectangular desks and many of them were older than they should have been. Their experience of learning had been erractic for a few years and they all dreamed of obtaining their school leaving certificate. They hoped I would help them achieve it.
As days became weeks, I managed to capture and hold the interest of my students. And they captured my interest too with their tales of their own life experiences. I learned of senseless rioting from the mouths of those who suffered from it. I heard stories of people being thrown off trains as part of the political violence that was erupting in South Africa at that time. My heart ached for the children who had lost their innocence so early and who experienced such a brutal side of people.
© Colline Kook-Chun, 2015
(This post was written for the FMF 31 day challenge hosted by Kate Motaung. Today’s prompt: capture)
Missed a post? Click here to read all my memoirs for the series titled Blackboard Scribbles.