It has been a year since we left Penang to come back to Delhi. Memories fade, new priorities intrude. Newer friends, workplaces, schools claim our attention. My memories of Taska Lin are as alive today as those of my 4 year old daughter who attended this nursery for about 6 months. Lee Swee Lin, Teacher Lin: you will never know what a difference you have made to our lives through the work that you did with Tuli.
Or, perhaps you do. Your love for our child was unconditional, the commitment to her growth as an individual unflinching. Her memories of you and “uncle”, your partner in this great experiment are vivid. She misses you. On the threshold of going to the “big school” now, and having survived 2 nurseries in the interim, she remembers only Teacher Lin, “my teacher”. I suspect, this is not new to you. I am sure these are the moments one lives for in one’s profession.
Taska Lin “strives to educate Malaysian society on the importance of an enjoyable early childhood, without too much pressure on education. The Waldorff philosophy consideres the whole development of the child important, not only academic progress but also a child’s spiritual, physical and moral well-being. This is based on the Rudolf Steiner or Waldorf school of education. Waldorf or Rudolf Steiner education is a unique form of education which is based on the view that the human being is a being of body, soul and spirit.”
Waldorf philosophy is based upon the belief that children learn different things best at certain stages of development when their spirituality, intellect and physical capabilities are in tune with the information presented to them. For example, unlike traditional kindergartens Waldorf kindergarteners are not taught to read. Instead they are taught poetry, stories and folk legends which are the foundation for developing reading skills according to the Waldorf philosophy. Children are not exposed to the written language until the age of six or seven.
Teacher Lin, I hope the rabbits are happy and well-fed and still prospering under the affection of the students. I hope the tortoises are fine as well, as is your dog. I remember Tuli coming back, all excited once and told me “she was good in class” because “Teacher Lin told me so”. I asked her, “so, did she give you a hug?”. “Yes, she did, and you know, I was also allowed to pat the rabbits”. What great motivation. Children do not need expensive toys or chocolates or chips.
I was happy to see your little corner in cyberspace; the pictures of you and the happy children brought many memories flooding back. Like the dragon dance for Chinese New Year, the various other celebrations in your school and the children. Always the children, happy, boisterous, bonding and all growing. Allowed to be themselves, yet under firm discipline and care.
Today, when we go for a walk in our apartment block complex and Tuli carefuuly unwraps a candy and puts the wrapper in her pocket waiting to spot a waste-paper basket, I remember you, Teacher Lin. When this otherwise naughty, boisterous girl unfailingly says thank you, politely to every little service like help with putting on her shoes to getting her a glass of water, I remember you. Education is not all about learning to read and write and solve academic problems. It is also about growing up with strong community values, respect for the environment and people around you.
I have carefully preserved the photo-frame of Tuli’s last birthday celebrations at Taska Lin. It is one of my most prized mementos of Penang.