The first quarter of the school-year 2008-2009 has just ended. Just like my fellow teachers, I am excited for this another 9 months of tough work ahead. Another year of molding young minds and influencing their personalities.
When I was hired in Davao Christian high School July last year, I was to teach only economics to fourth year high school students since I applied for that position. During the middle of the school year, the English teacher resigned and the job should be filled immediately. To solve it, our 1st year social studies teacher was asked to assume the job since she is really an English teacher. The problem then was passed to the social studies group. It’s in the middle of the school year and even for a reputable school like Davao Christian, hiring teachers is not that easy. Our coordinator asked me if I’m willing to teach Philippine history. All I can remember is that I hesitantly said yes. It was a total risk since I’m not an secondary education degree holder.
The job was not that easy. For a school adopting a parallel independent learning system wherein your three classes are conducted simultaneously, you must be very creative, time-efficient and adventurous in your class. Throughout the remaining five months, I discovered new things, new ideas, and new hopes in this ill-rotten country. For the past five months, I thoroughly enjoyed my job.
I discovered great ideas from my 13 year-old students. I tried to convince them that we are lucky enough to have our freedom when we were born. Though we are already free today, there are still a lot of things to fight for in this country. I asked them, “What revolution are you going to fight for the Philippines today?” It is really gratifying to hear hopeful things from them. One student answered, “My revolution as a student will be for the aid of children who need education. Education is important to the lives of the Filipinos. It is primarily a training of one’s intellect and capacity to conduct his/her own self properly.” This answer struck me because I think it is an important thing to pay attention. Many of our political leaders pride themselves as product of the best universities in the country, yet these are the same politicians who face different trials and charges of fraud, corruption and controversies in the government. Does this mean our academic institutions failed to guard the morality of the Filipinos?
Around 40% of my students answered they are going to fight against graft and corruption in the government. It’s impressive since they are aware of the most pressing problem in our society today. It is also a very sad thing to know that as young as they are it is already the situation they observed in the country. Is this how obvious the problem in the Philippine society today or are we beginning to accept the notion that the government should always be corrupt?
Whenever somebody asks me, “What is your job?” I will proudly answer I’m a teacher, a high school teacher. “What subjects are you handling?” I am also proud to say I’m teaching economics and history… Philippine history. Some of the reactions are sometimes insulting but I don’t have to defend and elaborate my reasons to them. Deep within, I know that there are more valuable reasons why history is important. It’s more than just the historic past. It’s more than those dead people and significant dates and unforgettable places. It’s about investigating and evaluating historical events to determine the relevance of past to the current situation of Philippine society. It’s all about understanding why our society today is the way it is.
This summer, I taught enrichment classes in math. My students always asked if I have plans of going abroad so that I can earn a better salary to have a good life… I throw the question back to them, “Why should I?” I already have a life here. I’m working in a Christian community, living in a beautiful, prosperous and peaceful city, working with individuals who are looking forward for the goodness of everybody, I got friends from all over, I enjoy the food and weather here, I love the places to visit and I love to stretch the minds of young Filipinos… Though of course problems arise (that is actually rising wherever you are in the world) but as of now, I’m living a happy life. But I would like to quote the very reason I have to that question from my fourth year student. The final question in their final exam was that: “Do you think that it is appropriate for the students from developing countries like the Philippines, to stay in Industrially Advanced Countries (IAC) to work and build careers? Support your answer.”
Marie Go answered, “No, because if these students – who have no doubt graduated college and high literacy/educational status – work in Industrially Advanced Countries, they would be leaving their nation to the mercy of incompetent, uneducated, unskilled people. If they render/sell their skills to other developed nations, those nations will keep on growing economically, while their own nation will suffer and lag behind.
All these students want high-paying jobs, they must first realize that if they sacrifice enough for their motherland, they will help the economy rise, and pretty soon they’ll have the high-salary jobs they so desperately want. Not only that, but they’ll be helping millions of fellow citizens, and the country too.”
I never thought teaching is this meaningful endeavor. Every time I read the answers and hear the gratitude of my students for what they have learned, I can’t measure it with money and not even utils (in economics, the unit of measurement for satisfaction)… It’s priceless.