Thursday, September 29, 2005

Teaching Blues part 1

Two times a week and on Saturdays, I roll up my sleeves, put on a serious face, unlock my reservoir of patience and stand in front of a sea of faces whose expressions range from the bored, to the apathetic, to the cynical, to the annoying. Yup, I teach. On weekday nights, to HRM majors at Benilde; and on weekends to slightly older (and sometimes really old!) HRM practitioners at some graduate schools.

Why I do it is a question that is easier to answer (because I want to!) than the other question - how do you end up not committing genocide while at it?

I have been asked many times how it is like to be a teacher. I realize that teaching is shrouded by many myths that being a teacher can make one feel he is Yoda (Filosopo Tasio), or worse, Darth Vader (Miss Tapia). It is difficult to act normal when being with students because the connection that is cemented in a classroom does last; so much so that even if you try to establish friendship afterwards, one will forever be a "sir" to another person. Of course there are students who successfully breach that dividing line, but those are few and hard to come by. Even my first thesis advisees (the students who can claim to be closest to me) still call me Sir, try to put on their best behavior and limit their use of cuss words in my presence. So how is it like to be a teacher? You get a sense of being "old" (not necessarily chronologically), of being deferred to; which means that you need to act and talk mature in their presence. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it messes up your spontaneity.

I think the real question that is foremost on people's minds actually is "how is it like being a teacher to today's generation of students?" That is a question that requires a thesis.

First of all, I would say that much of the perception about the current generation is precisely that - perception. And most of them are really unfounded, although the bit about the prevalence of ADHD is sadly true. But to be fair, I think that the predisposition to be truant, to challenge authority, to slack off, to make diskarte - all these and more are deviant behaviors not limited to the current generation. What is more accurate I think is that older generations tend to be more critical of the younger generation and tend to judge using mindsets that do not apply to the current generation.

For instance, there is this nagging suspicion that the current generation is hung up on materialism, branded clothes, expensive gadgets, etc. But what people conveniently leave out of the equation is that it is the older generation that taught the younger generation to be materialistic to begin with. When kids go to school with daily allowances that are more than the minimum wage, how can we expect them to settle for jobs that pay the minimum wage? Very often, it is parents who pressure kids to have new cars, to compete with other kids, to go abroad, etc.

Anyway. Am I any good? I can be better at it. But then again, to paraphrase Anna from the King and I, "I don't think any teacher is ever a good a teacher as he could have been or would want to be." It's just one of those professions that has no frontiers - dealing with people and minds is pretty much unchartered territory. There's just so much to explore. Outside of sexual harassment and corporal punishment, there are no limits.

So what do I have to show after almost a decade of mentoring and tormenting?

It does account for something when once in a while you get a hi! or hello! from a familiar face in the middle of Ayala even if you can't put name and face together. There is something about being instrumental to another's personal growth that gives you a feeling of worth, never mind if the position of reverence can be sometimes inconvenient.

Teaching also teaches the teacher many things. Being a teacher requires one to be passionate about learning. A teacher need not be the only authoritative source about learning, but it would be a great tragedy if he or she does not know the stuff he or she teaches, and teach it in engaging and interesting ways.

(more to come)


Julia Elvarado said...

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Jerome Jackson said...

On the Candidates' Blogs, Writing Right and Wrong
As a former Catholic schoolboy from the Bronx, surely Fernando Ferrer knows that falsehoods can trip you up.
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carlo sj said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
carlo sj said...

Bong (you see.. I didn't call you *sir* hehe)! You blog is always a good read.

Reg said...

This is to see if you are really hung up on that "issue" of yours...and, if this blogsite gives you updates on your fans' habitual "brain-digging." After all, you can't really give the finger physically on the net so we leave our brains to do that.

Anyway, I decided to read your past blogs for one reason: I realized I wasn't that interested in politics. Maybe it's the generation gap that led us to be apathetic or, perhaps, just pathetic. Besides...Carnivale rocks.