DEAR MA’AM/SIR

Reaction to the reading of the same title: Can a civics teacher teach math? There is such a thing called acquired taste. That means, we might not actually like or love something during the first time, but by giving them a chance, we’d like it eventually.

  1. I realised from this article that students are keen observers and they are the most reliable source of information to improve the teaching-learning process. Example is the guy who mentioned that he cares whether the teacher cares, if the lesson is taught well, or actually taught at all. Next, I learnt that students gestures can be an informative source of how to manage the classroom effectively. Since the teacher is the manager, s/he must be keen that fiddling a pencil case means something, as much as wrinkling of the forehead suggests something. Lastly, I learnt that a teacher is accountable to broaden his/her experiences in order to connect lessons to real life. Vicarious experiences extracted from reading, listening, and viewing also counts well.
  2. Issues left unclear to me are: how much control the teacher need to exercise inside the classroom; how could an pre- or in-service teacher’s training prepare them to become a holistic teacher who has got preparation, management, passion and significance; and how much content must the teacher teach, when the students could eventually find those themselves when they are trained to become self-directed learners.
  3. As a student, I used to think that Math is really boring; that strict teachers make the most impact in the lives of students; and that teachers must be well versed with a subject area. But then, I realised even more that Math become boring because the teacher made it so, probably lacking enough experiences to create a reali-life learning context where I could have connected ideas clearly. I realised that really strict teachers make the most impact, though it may take some few years before a student notices it. And lastly, I realised that a teacher need not to focus on one area. As much as the learners are diverse, s/he must also be able to connect information from other disciplines.
  4. Questions left hanging in my head would probably be about how come the author’s students’ reflection about their teachers exist in the classroom, where in fact those issues could have been outrightly dealt with during college? Does this mean that graduates of teacher education are mentally equipped but lack the due skills of practice when they enter classroom? They are probably theory-laden and substantial, but gets frustrated when the actual scenario extracts the idealism out of them. And so, is that the student/graduate’s fault, or the university, or the age-old education system itself?
  5. In my 6 years of handling classes, I conducted surveys to improve my craft. When I felt the need to analyse which I am good and weak at, I surveyed my class about the aspects of my teaching. I did it yearly, and I found out interesting perceptions from different cohorts of students I handles. When I felt the need to know what kind of teachers student listen to, I asked my students to interview their schoolmates. I even asked them to observe their other teachers.
  6. Let me make a critique regarding the pre-service education/training of teachers and the way they are given licensed. Probably not obsolete, but I think it is primeval! While Singapore, for instance, reformed drastically their educational system since 1997 with their Learning Schools, Thinking Nations national framework, ours just started. Talk about an abstract nationalism that hindered our nation, especially our people, to have inclusive opportunities.
  7. Anyway, as I was saying, teachers’ preparation is largely content knowledge-based. First, the curriculum laden with facts and theories to memorise, but not fully understand or grasp because there is no real-life connection. If there is, it happens during few semesters of college. Second, the items in the licensure examinations may go through all critical levels of knowledge taxonomies, but then again, the measure is entirely knowledge-based. Can a paper actually measure classroom skill that may be enough to merit one  a license? And lastly, not all who take teachers education would end up teaching. Economically speaking, that is a whole lot of resources wasted and opportunities missed. That is because, the students enter college early and would only end up deciding what they want to do in life 2 years later or probably more.

My radical idea would have to be devolve to state universities the granting of license for teachers based on a two-year full experience in the ground level: the classroom. This way they get real-life exposure as para-teachers; and they get to be coached and mentored by professional teachers. An assessment will be probably be helpful at the end to see the level of achievement of that teacher. The result shall show an entry-level assessment for schools so they can accommodate well the needs of that teacher or if the strengths of that teacher suit the school’s need. Whatever s/he lacks will later on be dealt with as s/he pursues masteral and doctoral degrees.

CHED issued a memorandum ordering HIEs or SUCs to shift from traditional modes of learning and use outcomes-based education. As early as 2006, DLSU has shifted to this mode; while Mapua Insitute of Technology got a US-based recognition for this. When we put a teacher aspirant into that context of real-life, real workplace scenario where s/he can make sense the content knowledge and theories, before licensed is given, that is outcomes-based.

If we do not reform, we sink because “the education landscape did not change since the colonial days” (Bautista, et. al, 2000). In fact, the results of the 1925 Monroe Survey do not differ with the state of Philippine education in the 1990s.

 

Reference

Bautista, Ma Cynthia Rose, Allan B.I. Bernardo, and Dina Ocampo. 2000. When Reforms Don’t Transform: Reflections On Institutional Reforms in the Department of Education

Why I never regret to work in Puerto Princesa City

Five years ago, I decided to settle and work in a local high school here in Puerto Princesa City. The city is located in the mid-section of the sword-shaped Palawan province and is 306 nautical miles away from Manila. The city is lush and verdant. It is most of the time quiet and peaceful.

At  my arrival in the island in 2006, I wrote:

 

 

“The then unconceivable island of Palawan to my mind suddenly appeared before my very eyes. As the ferry approached the dock after 6, the island became more visible and pleasantly appearing before the window of my soul.

I could see tiny vancas afloat the waters surrounding the port. There were also small nipa huts sporadically scattered along the shores.

The city was generally peaceful and calm, far the overt mixture of pollution in the Metro. The honking horn of the ferry I was in seemed to wake up the city, calling its people to welcome her.”

Just gone out of college, I chanced upon the place through a close friend’s invite. He and his group was putting up a summer camp and I was asked to observe, to teach the kids about government systems, and to help put up the youth organization he leads, which was then known as PowerYouth and is now known as Champion Youth Philippine. Fortunately, I ended up in a work that I came to love and later on discovered as my passion.

So anyway, to cut the long story short, I am now teaching in this city in a school named LifeCollege. I’m going to tell more about the school some other time, but for now I’d like to share that the city where I am in right now aptly fits my wiring—suburban, I get a doze of fresh air when I needed, while I am still in touch with the world.

Today, the city has become one of the favorite tourist destinations in the Philippines. It even claims to be the “Ecotourism Capital of the Philippines.” Thanks to the Puerto Princesa Underground River, which placed not only the city but the province and the country as well to the world map. Its bid to the New7Wonders of Nature  placed the city into a strategic position for tourists around the world to see. According to that website,

The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is located about 50 km north of the city of Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines. It features a limestone karst mountain landscape with an 8.2 km. navigable underground river…… [It] is reputed to be the world’s longest. 

Recently, the city was also declared a zero-carbon (or carbon-neutral or carbon negative) city, meaning it produces more clean air than the carbons emitted by the population and the industries combined. According to a Philippine Information Agency press release, the Puerto Princesa is the first city in the country and in Southeast Asia to be declared as carbon-neutral using the international guidelines set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Most of all, I just simply love the place because of the community I have here. It is free, authentic, and purpose-driven. The reason why I am teaching is primarily because I stayed here. If not, I could not be doing this and I would have probably not discovered that I was wired to become a teacher, a mentor, and a lifecoach all rolled into one.

Cast your votes for  PP Underground River in the New7Wonders of Nature until 11.11.11

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