Sunday, June 27, 2004

English is not easy!

I have always encouraged my children to read. I don't mind much what they read, as long as they read. It may be a novel or a comic book as long as they get the habit of reading. This will hone their knowledge with the spoken word. They will not only learn correct grammar but even learn the nuances of the language through reading. This is important especially with our educational system where the medium of instruction is a language that is not their first tongue.

When my wife got pregnant with our first child, I was even contemplating on raising the child with english thinking she'll have an edge in school if she did. I ruled out the idea for several reasons. First, as non-native speakers of english, we are wont to commit mistakes and she just might pick these up. Secondly, not everybody in the house is adept with the language. There's the maid who will definitely massacre the language, there's the grandmother whose pronunciation of some words are far different from the correct way it is to be said. So too was I concerned about the neighbors, and most especially, the playmates. I wouldn't want my children to grow up without the benefit of having played with their contemporaries. Furthermore, the different language with which we are communicating with one another would confuse the child and may hamper her ability to talk at an early age. So, we opted to teach them the native language. It was easier for everybody that way.

True enough, they experienced some difficulty once they reached that age when they had to go to school. I could just imagine my children looking in awe at the teacher as she blabbered the lesson in an unknown tongue. During the time I was growing up, I remember my teachers urging us to speak only in English. We were collected a fine for every tagalog word spoken. I wonder if that is still being done today in some parochial schools. Not in the school where I work and where the children are studying, though.

Going back to reading. I was already becoming paranoid as it seems that none of my children will ever pick up the habit. It was a losing battle with the television and the computer. So, it came as a surprise when I saw my eldest son, Mickey, who was then about 11 years old, picking up a book and reading. It turned out he was to make a book report on the Iliad. So, picture this. I was trying to read my book while Mickey was reading his. Suddenly, I noticed he was looking blankly at the wall. I wondered what he was thinking. When he couldn't take it anymore, he asked, "Papa, ba't iyakin si Ulysses?" (Papa, why is Ulysses such a cry baby?) Puzzled, I said, "of course not! He's very very brave man!" "He couldn't be," said my son. "I always see this." As if to prove his point, Mickey showed me the passage he was reading. "Run to the ship!" Ulysses CRIED! Cute no?

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Parenting:Life and choices

Before being a teacher, I am a parent first. This is what life is to me, my raison d'etre. Like anybody else, I had no practice being a parent. And so, it's kind of a hit or miss. However, it should not be. I cannot afford having too many misses.

If life was only about black and white.. moral and immoral... good or bad, it would have been a lot simpler. yet, it is not so. There are too many things in between. Let me illustrate.

Being parents, me and my wife have made too many close calls. These were crucial as what was in line was the fate of four kids who are dependent on us for sustenance, shelter, education and everything normal children need. Life is about decisions and we have to teach the children to learn how to make the right ones. Take note, I said teach them to learn how, not teach them the right ones. It may be easier to say don't do this or that but the lesson might not be learned. Giving them options and leading them on to the right path might.

When my third child, Kim, was in grade one, she had an assignment to bring her CL handout. During this time, they had several handouts which looked alike. Anyway, she forgot to bring hers and feared she might be given a zero as the teacher threatened the day before. Knowing what the assignment was, my wife asked Kim during dinner what happened during the subject. "Kim, you forgot your handout. I suppose you got a zero in class today." "No, mom," was her reply. "Really, what did you do?" asked my wife. "When the teacher asked us to read the hand-out, I took the one for Language and pretended to read. She didn't notice." My first reaction was to scold her as that was being dishonest. However, as I pondered what i have to say at that time, I said to myself, "not bad. Kim is a survivor." My wife and I were thinking, what Grade one kid would have thought of that? So, as I told her it was dishonest and not to repeat it again, she didn't receive any tongue lashing that time.

Monday, June 21, 2004

spare a buck, anyone?

Since I started blogging and finding my way around, there are a few things that I noticed. First, Filipinos have the capacity to put any technological breakthrough to its fullest advantage. Ex. cell phone texting. While I was in Canada a few years back, I noticed that they have not yet caught up with the Filipino fad. They need to talk to someone, they call. Never texted. Another example is blogging. Just like texting, it is becoming a fad as more and more Filipinos here and abroad get into the habit of putting their musings on this electronic journal. Lastly, that most of these bloggers are young and extremely intelligent. The blogging community is rife with young intellectuals who can make a big difference in the future.

A big part of why the economy is at a downfall is because of our monstrous debt. It is so huge I cannot imagine how many roomful of money is needed to pay our debt. To even think that the Philippines can ever pay it is now unthinkable. I have reason to believe that we will only need to borrow some more to be able to pay a part of it. The economy is so bad that it has often been said that even my children's children already has a burden of paying the country's foreign obligations.

Now comes my idea. Our country is one of the most populated countries in the world. What if we start collecting a peso from each individual to help our country pay its debt? Surely, anyone can spare a peso. With our depleted economy, a peso amounts to nothing anymore. If I can make this work, surely, there would be more and more individuals who can donate more. Bayi, Cathy and Batjay, that will be $1 each for the three of you. Sorry but while the magic number 1 is constant, the monetary sign is not. That goes with other expats as well. Doc Emer pwedeng magbigay ng Php100, ha. hehehe

In one of my exchange of ideas with Chris in Sassy's comment box, I asked him this question. "What can we do?" Bloggers, I don't know how to set it up or if it's even possible. Maybe you have better ideas. I'm willing to listen and abandon this if yours is a better one. Right now, I urge you all to think. Our predecessors, especially our leaders, have failed us. It is time we help ourselves.

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Congrats Dondie

Last night, the wife and I were invited to a dinner hosted by long time friend Lolit Valerio, who is sister to my college buddy Lynne Sanchez. I remember celebrating Christmas with them, eating lunch, going to Bulacan for lunch, and all that bumming around while working on our plates for fine arts. Lynne, the ever liberated college kid drove to school on her motorbike,(not a very usual site those days) would borrow her sister's car so we can drive around town.

Last night, we celebrated the graduation of Dondi, Lolit's eldest son, for having completed Legal Management at DLSU. We were joined by her other children Alvin and Irish. Alvin is now at UST taking up medicine and Irish is graduating from high school at San Agustin.

What is the point of my blog besides congratulating a friend? I think it is the prospect of seeing her child finish schooling and taking up a career. My idea of parenting is that of preparing children to face the real world. I tend to pity children whose parents let them grow with nannies who will always be there at their beck and call. Most often than not, they end up spoiled and can't make decisions by themselves. During my early years as a teacher, I asked a student to turn off the lights. He wouldn't budge and as I was about to be pissed off, I began to realize from his reactions he didn't know how. I swear, this is so true! It was confirmed later on by his classmates.

Anyway, I think I digress, as I am wont to do all the time. The point I'm trying to make is that I am looking forward to seeing my kids graduate from school whatever the cost is. God help me but I hope me and the wife manage to do this without anymore hassles than there already are. So, in the meantime, Rey and Lolit, I salute you.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Big difference?

Just how different are schools from the industrial or corporate world? Unfortunately, there is a big difference. Basically, schools are there to prepare the individual for the real world. And yet, schools oftentimes are not microcosms of what the world truly is. In schools, we see an ideal world or how we perceive what the world ought to be. We have rules and regulations that are bound to be followed, no matter how mundane these are. We impose them on our young on the premise that if we train the students hard enough, the same will be imbibed on their young minds. How naive can one get?

Another difference is the promotion of employees to administrative positions. First, there aren't as many administrative posts in schools than in some of its corporate counterparts. Basically, you have the EVP, Principal, vice-principal, Directors in various offices and the lesser ones like the coordinators which is not actually an administrative post in the true sense of the word. At most, it is a primus inter pares or first among equals, kind of thing. Hence, you have a hundred or so individuals aspiring for very few slots.

It is but natural that the best worker be the one to be promoted to an administrative post. Hence, the best lathesman is given the supervisor slot. This is not accurately true in education. A good teacher may not necessarily be a good administrator. If a good teacher is promoted on the basis of his/her capabilities as a teacher, and proved to be inefficient, what happens is the school loses a good teacher and gains a bad administrator. Instead of a win-win situation, we have a lose-lose situation; and that doesn't sound good in english, much more in tagalog.

Comes now the question of what should be the bases for promotion in a school setting? While it is disheartening, it seems like promotions in schools should not be based on how well a teacher teaches but on capabilities of handling the job. Problem is, if you're weak as a teacher, chances are, the subordinates will think they're better than you are, hence it would be very hard to gain their respect. Ang gulo no? What do you think?

Thursday, June 17, 2004

By your leave, Sassy

I couldn't go to school today. I am down with the flu. I have been shivering lst night. The bad thing is the kids also have to miss school as nobody can drive them to school.

Anyway, I just realized that there might be teachers who do not actually know the extent of their responsibilities and the consequent liabilities they have as custodians of minors. AS the speaker in one of the seminars I attended said, "What you do not know might hurt you." It will if we don't know the responsibilities we are faced with.

Teaching is not solely about imparting knowledge but has legal responsibilities to their ward attached to it. Hence, I decided I would impart some of my knowledge about the liabilities of teachers. I just hope Sassy is reading this so that she can shed more light if there is something wrong with what I have written and can correct it.

Teachers have two basic duties. These are instruction, which is to impart knowledge and supervision, taking care of their students.

From various seminars and readings I had, specifically the annotated book of Atty. Ulpiano Ulan, the New Family Code differentiates the in loco parentis clause with that of the exercise given to teachers of minors which is special parental authority. While the former is applied in the case of death, absence, or unsuitabiltiy of the minor students' parents, it is not exercised when there is actual parental authority. There is a big difference in that special parental authority is exercised concurrently with actual parental authority. It rests on the theory that while the child is in the care and custody of the person exercising SPA the parents temporarily relinquish parental authority.

What this means is that teachers have civil obligations to their wards. There are four sources of liabilities. These are: fraud, the deliberate deception of others; delay, not doing what should be done on time, like giving of grades; negligence and contravention of the tenor of obligation. From among these sources, negligence is usually what teachers have been charged with.

There are four elements of negligence. These are 1. duty - it is the duty of every teacher to show reasonable care to all "foreseeable" persons and property; 2. breach - results whenever an individual fails to provide reasonable care to forseeable plaintiff; 3. causation - the teacher must have "caused" the damage for which the victim is seeking compensation; and, 4. injury- that there is actual injury, be it emotional or physical.

How do we safeguard our own interest as teachers, then? Do what we're supposed to do, never lose contact of our students, and make sure we practice reasonable diligence in inspecting property and equipment to ensure that such is in good working condition. This especially holds true with laboratories, and technical subjects like Work Ed. Our only defense against negligence is to prove that we have acted accordingly as any normal person culd have. With that, happy teaching ahead.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Muslim Ed 101

For once, I think the DepEd is doing something good. The Inquirer publishes a story about adding Muslim education to the elementary curricula. It plans to introduce "functional" Muslim knowledge into the elementary curricula to encourage Muslim Filipino children outside Mindanao to attend school. Functional would mean historical accounts of the country's 15th century links to Islamic culture.

The plan will not only mean to educate Muslims but non-Muslims as well if it will be included in the curriculum. While we Christians in Luzon and the Visayas have a general understanding of the Muslims, we take it for granted and believe that this minority group is far from us, hence, their problems do not affect us that much. But they do. We are primarily responsible for any living being that belongs to our territory, shares our patrimony, history and culture.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Moment of truth

Classes start tomorrow. As traffic on Mondays is tough, I have to wake the children up earlier than usual. We have to start the first day right so that nothing awry happens the rest of the year.

Failed to meet with the teachers under me. Forgot to tell them that it might be a little different with me at the helm. Although I manage to show a rigid face, I am not very keen on passing judgment easily on erring kids. Oftentimes, I let go of the small misdemeanors of minors. I would have told them to let some issues pass, choose their battles, etc. Actually, it's more of self-preservation. Once they send a case to my office, I will be compelled to act on it no matter how trivial the case may be.

The classroom is a venue for learning. Sometimes, a child, in his/her enthusiasm forgets proper decorum. Oftentimes, the child loses his/her decorum at all for no apparent reason. I firmly believe that it is incumbent upon the teacher to address the issue by himself/herself first. Sending the child to a higher office would mean surrender. Another child telling on his/her friend/enemy because it is the easy way out. oh well...

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

there you go again!

The Department of Education is running out of ideas. In its simplistic mind, the solution to the poor showing of public school students is adding another year which they call interim "bridge". How many times will they try to force this down our throats? It has been suggested several times already and everytime was faced with a lot of opposition. Why not? Adding another year is not a solution. Au contraire, it will only prove to be another fatal mistake.

Today's editorial of the Inquirer narrates how parents and teachers reacted to the idea. I cannot blame them. I agree that the plan is indeed "unnecessary, unreasonable, discriminatory and oppressive."

I don't believe the DepEd is wanting of intelligent thinkers. What I do know is that it is full of red tape and corruption. But then, that is another story.

The real scenario is that with its suggested list of minimum competencies for each level, only about half is met. To illustrate, a grade one pupil should learn the minimum requirement for the grade level. This is not met but the child is promoted to Grade two. Naturally, the child cannot cope with the requirements of the level. Unfortunately, the teacher/s of the level will begin teaching the minimum competencies of this level. And this goes on until high school. By this time, the learning competencies the child should have learned has compiled just like the country's national debt.

If the Department is serious about upgrading the capacity of students to learn, it should instill programs that is designed to teach the students to learn. What about a tutoring program to ensure that the student learns what he/she should be learning in his/her grade level? But then, that would mean more resources, more teachers and more students willing to undergo said program. There are different ways to address the problem but I know that adding another year is definitely not one of them.

Saturday, June 05, 2004


While our school is to open a week later than most schools in the country, (June 7) I can feel the tension building up within my system now. More and more questions are racking my brain more than ever before. I never had this feeling for almost eighteen years. I remember feeling tense twenty years ago when I was a neophyte in teaching. Having graduated from a course totally different from my targeted profession took its toll and I was breathless, my heart palpitating fast, my knees weak especially when I first saw the first class of Grade 7 pupils coming to my room.

I didn't know what to expect then. What will the students say about me? I was paranoid. A simple smile meant a sneer, I was being laughed at, etc. This is what I am feeling today as opening day draws nearer. What will the students think about me in my new post? More importantly, how will the teachers, students and parents take my decisions. Surely, I will be stepping on someone's toes someday. How will I turn each situation that come my way into a win/win scenario?

A large part of the problem is that I can't consider myself as a very disciplined man. I have a tendency to overindulge. A classic example is food. I have a very big appetite. I occasionally cook when my wife couldn't for some reason or another. Now, there has been a saying that a cook finds it hard to eat lots of his/her own cooking. I don't know who came up with that saying but it doesn't work for me. Now, for someone who is diabetic, that spells trouble. Thanks to glucophageI manage to have my blood sugar under control. Another example is smoking. While I have cut down on my consumption, I still couldn't kick the habit. These are the issues I have to contend with personally before I can be confident with my new assignment. If I am sure that I am a man of discipline, then I can look anybody in the eye and say, yes, that was my decision and it's anchored on my own principles.

Oh well, all I can do is look back to when I started and be contented that I have managed to stay this long. If I have done it before, there is no reason why I couldn't do it now even if the consequences have changed. Amen!