Skip to main content

Happy Teachers’ Day! Choose to see the best in others :)

By September 4, 2015March 31st, 2016Education

Today is teacher’s day in Singapore!

Let us take some time on this special day to honour and express appreciation for our teachers (at school, at the workplace, in life, etc) who have sown into our lives, inspired us to change for the better, and taught us important life lessons.


And if we are teachers, let us remind ourselves to honour our students by choosing to see the best in them, as this story illustrates:

“Tommy simply cannot sit still in kindergarten. During storytelling time, he talks and walks about. He disturbs other children in their work. Instead of taking a nap, he runs around the room. The teacher cannot control him, and thinks he is a real troublemaker.

On Teachers’ Day, the children gave little presents to their teacher. Tommy also had a present for her. It was a little box, wrapped with pretty coloured paper. She opened the box slowly and carefully. Inside was a caterpillar. The teacher thought it was a naughty trick. She became very angry and scolded Tommy. She threw the box into the wastepaper basket.

After school, the teacher found a little envelope. It must have dropped from one of the presents. Inside was a letter for her, from Tommy. The letter said, “Dear Teacher, here is a baby butterfly for you. I hope it will become a pretty butterfly.”

The teacher felt very bad. Tommy had wanted to do a good thing. But she had thrown away his gift and scolded him. Why? It was because she thought Tommy was naughty, and everything he did must be naughty.

Often, many of us are actually like the teacher.

For example, if someone has done something wrong one day, we think he will never be able to do anything right. No matter what he does later on, we don’t care to look at it because we think it cannot be good.

Another example: If we see someone unable to walk normally because he had suffered from polio when he was young, we also think his brain may not be normal, so we do not include him in discussions, and we do not give him tough jobs. And then we wonder why his work is not very good.

You can call this “prejudice.” You can call this “assumptions.” Others call it “mental models.” It means the way we think about people prevents us from seeing how capable they are or from understanding them well.

A third example: If we believe our customers want to cheat us, we will make all kinds of rules to control them. But if we believe most of our customers are honest and law-abiding, we will make things convenient for them, and at the same time think of ways to catch the few who may want to cheat. In this way, we do not allow the small number of bad customers to cause us to delay our service to all the other customers.

Let us be willing to question our “mental models,” whether these “mental models” apply to our students, our customers, our colleagues, our families, or our work. Let us not allow our “mental models” to prevent us from seeing possibilities and taking up opportunities to improve. This is the way to excellence – always questioning, always improving, always willing to do better.

Our “mental models” must allow us to see the future beautiful butterfly, and not just the ugly hairy caterpillar.”


Photo credit:

Story reproduced with permission from “The Leader, The Teacher & You”:

Leave a Reply