I am beginning to get the impression that, for a primary school kid, a teacher represents the highest authority in every given situation.
We’re on a TV set, right? Everyone knows that the director is the highest authority. Next in line is the assistant director or producer. You need anything, you ask any one of them. You have questions, you ask them.
DON’T ASK THE BOGUS TEACHER LAH.
In the past month of filming of this kids’ drama, I have been fielding questions (mostly from student extras) that should have gone to any member of the production crew, instead.
“Teacher, really write or pretend write?”
– with regards to a scene in which the students are doing a test.
“Teacher, can I go toilet?”
– in between scenes.
“Teacher, where is the char kuay teow?”
– during tea break.
“Teacher, he steal her pencil!”
– from a tattletale.
Do they even realise that I’m not a real teacher? I’m only an actress pretending to be a teacher. Yet, they consult me for everything, as if I’m the only authority in the whole place.
When I attempt to explain the situation — “That’s nice, but don’t tell me, ok? Tell the director because he’s the one in charge.” — they just stare blankly back at me as if I’ve just spoken to them in a foreign language.
Is the concept of teacher as authority so deeply ingrained in our kids that anyone who looks like a teacher and dresses like a teacher and goes by the name of 唐老师 (Teacher Tang) is immediately the authority to answer every problem and every query in every situation?
Is it just our kids? Do kids in other countries and other cultures behave the same way?
On the flip side, it can be quite heartwarming. They greet me cheerily every time they see me, like they would a real teacher. It makes me feel loved.
Sometimes, while walking around the school compound, I even get greeted by real students in the school we’re filming at, which is kind of amusing.
I don’t know what real teachers think but, from my limited perspective, I think teaching is a very noble profession because teachers carry so much influence in a kid’s eyes that they have the chance to literally shape the kid’s life.
I would be scared stiff to be given such a sacred responsibility.