THERE is something special about schoolteachers which makes me curious - and that is they don’t seem to get old like the rest of us.
They do, of course, in terms of the passing years. But physically there appears to be some restraint on the ageing process.
I know this because most of the teachers who taught me in my primary school journey during the 1970s, and also in high school, are still strong and look younger than me.
One of them is Alphonse Sil from Kup in the Kerowagi District (pictured with me above).
Alphonse taught me from Grades 3 to 5 in 1975-77 and is now in his seventies but, as you can see, looks tough and youthful for his age.
Alphonse attended Rosary Kondiu Primary School in 1959-69 and in 1970 was employed by Bulolo Commonwealth New Guinea Timber.
While working there, he applied for teacher training and was accepted, graduating in 1974 after a one-year teacher training program at Holy Trinity Teachers College.
The following year he started teaching at Diani Primary School in the remote Salt Nomane area of Simbu. This is where he taught me until he was transferred in 1978.
What always impresses me of this great pioneer of modern education is the pride he has in his Kumai culture.
At school, Tuesday was the designated day for teachers and students to wear their traditional finery as a way of promoting heritage and culture.
But Alphonse would wear his Kumai bilas anytime of the week and earned the nickname ‘Kumai Skin Diwai’ because of the tree bark that he wore around his waist.
Alphonse resigned from teaching in 2014 after 40 years of service and, with his wife Lina, he now lives at Kup along with their four children and very many grandchildren and great grandchildren.
It’s not just me who has experienced this phenomenon of the ‘forever youthful teacher’ but many others have done the same.
The consensus among us is that teachers spend most of their time with children, talking and acting like them and therefore their brain, body and feelings have been conditioned to stay young.
I have done no research on this theory but it would be interesting to hear from readers.