Thursday, June 29, 2006

Burn Out

I know what you're thinking. Based on the fact that I seldom blog these days, you are guessing that I am running out of things to blog, right? Nope, it's not. I may not be as prolific as other bloggers out there who can blog two or three entries a day but rest assured that I have sufficient material (yet) to blog about at least twice a week. It's just that work gets in the way and I could not find time to sit down and consolidate my thoughts.

So, what is this entry about? This is really about burn out in the work place.

According to this site, quoting Ayala Pines and Elliott Aronson, burn out is (A) state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion caused by long term involvement in emotionally demanding situations. Burn out is something a professional dread. I do. It would be like living in limbo when this state sets in. Sure you work but you are definitely not happy. Chances are you would be staring in space most of the time wondering what the other side of the fence is like. This is probably where the phrase "the grass is greener on the other side" is true.
In a situation like this, not only have you become a liability to the organization you are in, probably scattering negative vibes on your comrades but most importantly, depriving yourself of happiness. Truly, burn out is depressing. Even your family will suffer for they would feel every heartaches and headaches you bring from work.
The key to a successful career has always been to love every minute of it. Lucky are those who are in a field where they really belong. Imagine doing what you want to do most and getting paid for it? Undeniably a dream job. I am quite fortunate. I have never dreamt of becoming a teacher (having been a nightmare to most of my teachers in high school) and yet, here I am, helping myu colleagues shape young minds to be rewsponsible adults with the best of my ability. Being a teacher is no routinary job. Hence, I do not find it boring. Every year is a new one. New students entering your classroom, new teachers being hired hence dealing with different personalities which means different challenges. Heck, there is something new everyday.
I know I still have a long way to go. My mind is still whirling with ideas. Right now, I am about three to four works ahead in ideas aobut what I would like to paint. I know what to teach for the whole year and I have new lessons to impart to my students in spite of having taught for almost half of my life. Notwithstanding, i am aware that burn out can happen to the best of us. Nobody is immune to it. It's a matter I have to be careful with. Once I see the signs, I know I should immediately do something about it. I know I am not immune to this phenomenon so I might as well think about it now. What should I do should this thing occur in the future. i have a few ideas how to combat this dreaded state.

1. Go out with friends and forget about work. Make new ones specially in the work place.
2. Find new reasons why I should go to work. Earning for my family just won't cut it anymore, I'm sure.
3. Pace myself. Do not be overwhelmed by stress. Just make sure I work while the boss is around.
4. Try to look for amusing things while working. Laughter would be a welcome respite from a tiring day.
5. Do not talk about work when I get home. Completely forget about it.
6. When all of these fail, then I know it is time to move on. Maybe this job is not really fulfilling anymore.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Trompe l'oeil

Trompe l'oeil is a style of painting which is meant to deceive the eye. Translated literally, it means fool the eye - (tromper - to deceive, le - the, and oeil - eye)

It has always been interesting to try out other styles. When my friend and her husband took me on a tour to Whistler, we chanced upon several galleries to view what was showing in them. Two paintings really caught my attention. If I remember correctly, the dimensions were approximately 4' X 5'. One was that of a crumpled paper, the other, of satin. Too bad I couldn't remember the name of the artist anymore. I couldn't get my eyes off those paintings and I promised myself I was going to do something similar until I get the same effect. Well, I did get to paint a crumpled paper but I am not yet satisfied. It may take some time before I can get the effect I really want to achieve. Practice makes perfect. In the meantime, this one will do. I call it Tabula Rasa no more! Hope you like it just the same.

Oil on Canvas 20" X 30" Posted by Picasa

Sunday, June 11, 2006

With education, quality is important

Once again, students and teachers (that includes me) are gearing up for the opening of classes this Tuesday. As always, talks related to education is at the forefront, and as always, the issue of shortage of classrooms has been tackled, yet again. Funny that we have known about the problem since time immemorial and yet have not found any real solution to it. Are we really addressing the problem head on? The president thinks she has found a solution to the problem. As a matter of fact, it resulted in the tongue-lashing (of) Acting Secretary Fe Hidalgo of DepEd received at the May 30 Cabinet meeting with reference to supposedly (giving a) wrong information on classroom shortages. Her solution is very simple as this article reports.

PRESIDENT Arroyo declared Tuesday that her government has licked the perennial problem of classroom shortage. This she did by applying a new formula to estimate the demand for classrooms.

Instead of the ideal ratio of 45 students to a class used for years by the Department of Education, Arroyo says the ratio of 100 students to a class should be adopted.

Excuse me but is the President that naive? Is this a simple mathematical problem? Why do I sense a famous "eat-cake-because-there=is-no-bread" stance made by a beheaded French queen? No, it may not be as callous but it is just as absurd. Has the President forgotten that when it comes to education, quality is important? For quality to be had, there should be a lesser student to teacher ratio so that the teacher can attend to more students that he/she possibly can. I have taught a class size of 42 and believe me, it was very hard. As it is, the present 45 students/classroom of the DepEd is a lot. Increase that to a 100 students crumped in a small classroom would mean chaos. How will there be education when there is chaos? I can just imagine testosterone-filled teen-agers in one classroom and I know it would be a teacher's nightmare.

In fairness to the DepEd, it has tried to solve the problem but to no avail. In his article TO ALL WHO CARE TO HEAR: THERE IS A REAL CLASSROOM SHORTAGE IN THIS COUNTRY, former education undersecretary Juan Miguel Luz stated:

To deal with this problem of overcrowding, DepEd embarked on an interim strategy in SY 2003-2004 (under Secretary Edilberto de Jesus) to do double-shifts in the most overcrowded schools so that classrooms could be used TWICE in one day. Hence, the “classroom-to-student” ratio is actually twice the number of students per class because the room is used twice a day by two classes (morning and afternoon) rather than by just one class (for the entire day).

To me, this is more logical than what the president suggests. Still, Luz finds this to be far from ideal for (T)he truth is, however, that a classroom should only be used by one class per day (especially in the higher grades) because double or even triple-shifting takes away class time from students.

Another solution being undertaken by the DepEd is the GASTPE or Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education whereby the government pays private schools subsidies so that students of low income families can enrol in these schools. When the government subsidy is not enough, the schools help in subsidizing these indigent students. But how many students can benefit from this program? Luz offers us the numbers, thus:(GASTPE)paid for over 382,000 students from low-income families to study in over 1700 private high schools nationwide at a rate of P4000 per student. That may be a lot, but how many enrollees do we expect this year? In schoolyear 2006-07, DepEd expects to enroll 12.4 million elementary pupils and 5.5 million secondary students. You do the math. Besides, how many private schools are willing to help? Will there be more than 1700?For how long? Whether we like it or not, private schools have to look at the business side of the equation. The GASTPE would mean not only displacing a student who is willing to pay full for his/her tuition fee, but will also add cost on the part of the school.

Unfortunately, the only solution remaining is to build more classrooms. But then, granting again that the government, wistful thinking as it is, is able to build more classrooms, will there be enough teachers? Alas, that is altogether another dilemma we have to face. In my school alone, more and more teachers are going abroad to teach. And the list goes on and on.