Positive Effects of Teachers

I wrote my experience with the worst teacher I have ever met in the previous article [1], but at the same time, I had numerous excellent teachers that I thought about them often. Among them, Mrs. W, taught me Chinese literature when I was in middle school, and Mr. S taught me math when I was in high school and had lifetime influences on me.

Observation, Observation and Observation

Mrs. W taught me Chinese literature. One of the main parts of Chinese literature is to learn composition. When Mrs. W taught about composition, the first day, she talked a lot about Observation with my own eyes. It’s eye-opening for me. 

I was 14 at the time, and before that, I was taught to thinking according to what the Chinese Communist Party and people around me wanted, and never thought by myself. I never observed anything through my own eyes. I believe that the majority of Chinese were like that at the time. Mrs. W also announced that she would give a large portion of the term mark based on our improvement for Observation. 

It was such fun to take Mrs. W’s course and saw the world with my own eyes. Then, for the first time, I felt the freedom of writing anything I desired, and I remembered to tell myself that I could be a writer for the rest of my life. That was the first time I dreamed without a haze to be a writer. But, unfortunately, both my parents were scientists, and under the Chinese Communist Party, many good writers had miserable lives. So I was trained to be a scientist, and my dream to be a writer was soon shattered.

Although I didn’t become a writer, I learnt three attributes to be a good writer: 1) sensitivity to what happens around us, 2) having the guts to tell the truth to evoke people, 3) mastering the language. I have the first two attributes, but sadly, I’m not good at the languages, either Chinese or English. 

I have written articles regularly since three years ago, have them reviewed and post on the Health Union (lungcancer.net) as a lung cancer patient advocate [2]. From time to time, the articles resonated with patients and had a lot of comments as feedbacks. I saw first-hand the power of writers.

Asking smart questions

I went to one of the top three high schools in Beijing, China. Unlike the private schools here, the students passed the “incandescent” entrance exams in China, which was the prelude to the elite universities of my time. So naturally, the students in such high schools were expected top-notch. 

Mr. S was my math teacher in high school. In the beginning, we were pretty arrogant, like “proud sons and daughters of heaven”. However, the arrogance was all gone within a short time, mainly because of Mr. S. I learned the most from Mr. S to “ask smart questions”. 

In Canada, people often say there are no stupid questions, but that’s not true. To ask good questions requires a though understanding of the subjects, and you have to have your opinion further. The success of good research (or anything) lies in defining a good question, which is not easy. I learnt how to ask questions with Mrs. S, and “asking intelligent questions” has been my life-long quest.


I have been an engineering professor for 20 years, but thinking back, did I have such an impact on my students? The teachers from primary schools, middle schools, or high schools are not only teaching the students to read and do math but, more importantly, to build their characters. I like to quote from “TeacherGoal” from FB:

“Engineers make bridges. Artists kame paintings. Scientists make rockets. But teachers make them all.”


[1] Wu, Q. Christine, How to Forgive, 2021, https://prevailingwithlungcancer.blog/2021/06/27/how-to-forgive/

[2] Wu, Q. Christine, Prevailing with Lung Cancer, 2018, https://prevailingwithlungcancer.blog/

Photo from Lifebook online, Jon & Missy Butcher (https://home.mindvalley.com/quests/en/lifebook-online)

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