Mr Arthur Kok, Head of English & Literature at Nan Hua High School, graduated from FASS in 2000 with first class honours in English Language. He was among 10 winners awarded MOE’ s “Inspiring Teacher of English” 2009 Award. As an FASS mentor, Mr Kok also inspires and guides FASS students in career planning]
1. What are some of your feelings about and thoughts on winning this award?
It is humbling to be recognised as an inspiring teacher of English. While I try to passionately engage hearts and minds, I do this in fairly straightforward ways. There are many others who should be nominated by their students and receive the same if not greater recognition.
2. What are some of your best memories as an educator?
One of my students said he wanted to ‘own’ me. In other words, he wanted to be more successful in life and better me in all things English. This is gratifying because he saw teaching as a form of success (as opposed to the ridiculous idea that ‘Those who can’t, teach’) and he wanted to excel in English. Director-General of Education has issued the challenge that every teacher should reproduce himself, and in this regard, I am glad to report that a baby is on the way.
3. What inspired you to be become an educator?
I never thought of being a teacher. I wanted to be a chemical engineer and ultimately make lots of money as I direct people from a senior managerial position. But in a recruitment interview, I was offered a teaching scholarship. I thought of my family, took up the scholarship and found doors opening for me. As I made contact with the young, I grew to love this profession even more.
4. What are three words that would best describe you as an educator?
Reflective. Hopeful. Principled.
5. How has the FASS education helped you?
A varied liberal arts undergraduate programme put me in touch with a wide range of thinkers who have shaped and are shaping human development. I learned to ‘dialogue’ with these dead and living voices and with others who are also on the journey of discovery. In this sea of perspectives, I learned to defamiliarise myself from constructed reality and commonly held assumptions, and problematise, not just as an intellectual exercise, but as a precursor to solutions for acknowledged issues.