Atan Khamis is my father. He’s 81 and officially retired from the government service. He wasn’t a formal teacher. Never taught in a proper school, except for a very short time. But most of our foundation education, we owe it to him. Although his formal education credentials are not impressive, he was, to me and to many of *us, the best dang teacher on the planet.
*us here means my brothers and sisters. It also means many of my cousins who used to live near us. And it also means the neighbours’ kids – from around 1964 to 2013. He’d always converted parts of the houses that we’ve lived in into part-time or full-time classes. Thanks to Encik Atan, under his tutelage many of these children blossomed into straight A students. And often, these were kids whom their parents had given up on. Many of these former students have gone on to become successful professionals, academics and businessmen.
Dad was doing the 3R’s long, long before the term was invented, let alone being deemed fashionable. His specialties were English and Math. The 8 Parts of Speech, the Arithmetic Times-Tables were absolute musts in his books. If you don’t ‘get’ those, you will “get it”. He also did Science, Islam basics, Drawing, Bahasa Melayu, typing skills (!) etc but with somewhat lesser emphases. ‘English is the language of the world. And Mathematics is the language of Science.’
I wouldn’t be half the person I am now without tuition by my No.1 teacher. And I’m sure I speak on behalf of the hundreds of successful people that have graduated from the classes of Cikgu Atan.
To Abah, thank you. You are the best.