Joys of the Teaching Career – Bing Xin


冰心 《当教师的快乐》

我只当过十年的教师。那是一九二六年我从美国留学回来,在母校燕京大学国文系当了一名教师。那时系里的主任和教师大半是我的老师。校内其他科、系里也有我的老师。总之,全校的教师都是我的师辈!因此在开教授会的时候,我总是挑个极边极角的座位,惶恐地缩在一旁。大家都笑着称我为Faulty Baby(教授会的婴儿)。那一学期我还不满二十六岁。

在学生群中就大不一样了。他们是我的好朋友。我教一年级必修科的国文,用的是古文课本。大学一年级的男女学生很多,年纪又都不大,大概在十七到二十岁之间。国文课分成五个班,每班有三四十名,因为他们来自全国各地,闽粤的学生, 听不大懂马鉴主任、周作人、沈尹默、顾随、郭绍虞等几位老先生的江南口音,于是教务处就把这一部分学生分到我的班上。从讲台上望去,一个个红扑扑的稚气未退的脸,嬉笑地好奇地望着我这个”小先生”——那时一般称教师为”先生”。这些笑容对我并不陌生,和我的弟弟们和表妹们的笑容一模一样。打开点名簿请他们自己报名,我又逐一纠正了他们的口音,笑语纷纭之中,我们一下子就很熟悉很亲热了!我给他们出的第一道作文题目,就是自传,一来因为在这题目下人人都有话 可写,二来通过这篇自传,我可以了解到每个学生的家庭背景、习惯、性情等等。我看完文卷,从来只打下分数,不写批语,而注重在和每个人做半小时以内的课外谈话上。这样,他们可以告诉我:他们是怎么写的,我也可告诉他们我对这篇文字的意见,思想沟通了,我们彼此也比较满意。

我还开了一班习作的课,是 为一年级以上的学生选修的。我要学生们练习写各种文学形式的文字,如小说、诗、书信,有时也有翻译——我发现汉文基础好的学生,译文也会更通顺——期末考 试是让他们每人交一本刊物,什么种类的都行,如美术、体育等等。但必须有封面图案、本刊宗旨、文章、相片等等,同班同学之间可以互相组稿。也可以向班外的同学索稿或相片。学生们都觉得这很新鲜有趣,他们期末交来的”刊物”,内容和刊名都很一致,又很活泼可喜。

回忆起那几年的教学生涯,最使我眷恋的 是:学生们和我成了知心朋友。那时教师和男女学生都住在校内,课外的接触十分频繁。我们常常在未名湖上划船,在水中央的岛边石舫上开种种的讨论会,或者作个别谈话。这种个别谈话就更深入了!有个人的择业与择婚问题等等!这时我眼前忽然涌现出好几对美满的夫妻,如郑林庄和吴瑞梧,林耀华和饶毓苏,等等。有的 是我以大媒的身份去参加他们的完婚仪式,有的是由我出面宴请双方的家长,为他们撮合。说起来是半个世纪以前的事了。他们中有过半数的人已先我而进入另一个世界,写到这里,我心里有说不出的一种滋味!



Joys of the Teaching Career
Bing Xin

I was a teacher for only ten years. In 1926, on my returnto China after finishing studies in the United States, I began to teach at myalma mater Yenching University, Peiping, as a lecturer in Chinese. The deansand teachers of the Department of Chinese then were mostly my former teachers.Other faculties and departments also had no lack of my former teachers. I maywell say that practically all the teaching staff of the University were myseniors. Therefore, at a faculty meeting, I always chose a seat at anunobservable corner of the room. Everybody jokingly called me “faculty baby”. Iwas then on the right side of 26.

It was, however, a different story when I was with mystudents. They and I were good friends. When I taught freshman Chinese as a requiredcourse, I used a textbook of classical prose. The freshmen were mostly youngboys and girls aged between 17 and 20. Freshman Chinese was taught in fiveclasses, each consisting of 30 to 40 students hailing from various places ofChina. Those from Fujian and Guangdong had difficulty in understanding theheavily accented speech of teachers like Ma Jian (Dean), Zhou Zuoren, ShenYinmo, Gu Shui and Guo Shaoyu who all came from places south of the YangtseRiver. Consequently, some of these students were transferred to my classthrough the arrangements of the Dean’s Office. Looking down from the rostrum, Iwas delighted by a multitude of rosy-faced naïve young students smiling andstaring curiously at me — the little teacher. Their smiles were by no meansunfamiliar to me, being similar to those I often saw on the faces of my youngerbrothers and younger female cousins. Often, when I opened the roll-call bookand asked them each to give their own names, I corrected their accents one byone. Thus, between laughter and chat, we came to know each other better andwere soon on friendly terms. The first composition they did was “MyAutobiography”. I let them write on this subject because, firstly, everybodyalways had got something to say on it and, secondly, it would afford me a goodopportunity to understand each student’s family background, habit, disposition,etc. I only put marks but never gave comments on the papers after reading them.Instead I laid emphasis on holding outside-class individual talks with themlasting not more than 30 minutes. They would tell me how they had done thecomposition, and I would express my opinion on it. And we would both feelpleased with the frank exchange of views.

I also offered a course on advanced writing, which was anelective for students above the freshman level. It gave them trailing indifferent genres of literary writing, such as fiction, poetry, correspondenceand sometimes translations. For the end-of-term examination, I had them eachhand in a self-edited magazine specializing in any subjects, such as fine arts,sports, etc. and complete with well designed from cover, aim of itspublication, photos, etc. Students of the same class could solicitcontributions or photos from each other, or from students of other classes.They called it an interesting try. The magazines they handed it by the end ofthe term were very lively and encouraging, each having its content quite inline with its title.

In recalling my past career as a teacher, I always thinkfondly of the intimate friendship between the students and me. In those days,teachers and students all lived on campus, which greatly facilitated ourafter-school contact. We often went boating on the Weiming Lake, or haddiscussions about various things on the marble boat by the island in the middleof the Lake, or had heart-to-heart private talks about, for instance, jobselections or marriage. At this moment the images of quite a few couples, suchas Zheng Linzhuang and Wu Ruiwu, Lin Yaohua and Rao Yusu, etc. suddenly appearin my mind’s eye. I attended some of their wedding ceremonies in my capacity asa go-between. Sometimes, preparatory to making a match, I had the parents ofboth parties meet each other at a dinner I gave. All that took place over halfa century ago, and now, alas, more than half of them have gone to another worldbefore me. I feel very had about it indeed.

It’s time for me to stop writing now. I’ve not beentalking solely about “students respecting teachers” or “teachers cherishingstudents” because, to my mind, teachers and students should be friends withmutual respect and love.

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