PE teacher runs extra mile to teach students about perseverance
Some teachers hone their craft outside school, then impart their experiences to their students. The New Paper speaks to three of them
During a desert marathon in Chile in 2015, physical education (PE) teacher Koh Suan Lam, 45, injured his leg within the first 2km of the race.
Later, he fell for the third time and twisted his ankle.
Yet he continued to put one foot in front of the other just to complete the race.
Sharing what he has learnt from running marathons, he tells his students at River Valley High School that their goal is "not to compete but to complete".
He said: "I always tell them I am not the best runner. But if we set out to do certain things with determination, the sky is really the limit."
Mr Koh took up running as a hobby when he was young. He started running marathons in 1996 at age 24.
He said: "I run to show myself I can do it. In life, we need goals to motivate us and marathons test our endurance, grit and mind. I hope my experiences inspire my students."
With the focus of PE moving away from assessments such as the National Physical Fitness Award (Napfa) tests, Mr Koh wants to emphasise on the process instead.
He said: "It is about the healthy lifestyle and seeing how PE can help them in their daily lives, rather than just Napfa scores. I try to make it enjoyable so that they will sustain it and keep exercising in the future."
Mr Koh observes those who do not enjoy PE lessons and tries to find out why.
Even if some students are unable to complete their runs, he tries to help them find something that they can do, through one-on-one sessions with them.
He said: "It is important to motivate them, but it is also vital to teach them to find their own motivation so that when they no longer have PE lessons, they will continue to exercise.
"I also tell friends to support one another in exercising."
Mr Koh still runs with his army buddies every week, whom he met more than two decades ago.
His students, Jeremy Koh, 18, and Tan Si Qi, 17, said Mr Koh's lessons have made them realise that PE is more than just running around the track or playing games.
Si Qi said: "He told us there is a bigger purpose to PE, which is to achieve a healthy lifestyle and to also learn teamwork.
"This helps me see the value of PE lessons rather than just a break for my mind from classes."
Jeremy added: "I also aim to run like he does. If a teacher and a father (of four) can run marathons, what is holding me back?"