Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Better Teachers, Better Students

It was only a week ago when you felt the mixture of thrill and hang-over of coming into your first class for the first semester of the school year 2011-2012. With high hopes of not getting in late, you rush to nearby seat, greet some friends, and then finally freeze at the sight of an ash-haired, cherry-red-lipped personage entering in. 

That is the beginning of an elementary class in a university, the old school way of commencing the day. It usually begins with a greeting or a snub from the teacher, depending on his/her mood, marital status, and maturity; it is followed by the introduction of names, wherein students are asked to stand up, go in front, and conquer their glossophobias with a sign of the cross, and then start the sentence with "My name is...I live in...I am..." So kindergarten! The attendance is checked, rules overviewed, late comers interrogated, and then the class released 30 minutes before the time. Day one ended. 

But when you try to pay more attention to the picture, you'll discover a certain ritual of pretension during the first few days of classes.

More of the students, starting from those a level higher than the freshmen up to the senior including those who have gathered ideas from friends and even nonsense rumors, take note of the classroom numbers and the respective teachers of those particular rooms. When they think the teacher is boring, too strict, too stingy, or just sucks, they would, as much as possible, do the best that they can to avoid encoding that teacher's room number into their load slips. Unfortunately for those who have admitted themselves late, they would have no choice but to settle with the "left-overs." Or they would march into the Registrar's office, plead for a revision of their load slips in the presence of a twenty-five peso hard cash and enter into another class, away from the terrors of the past teacher. 

In one of the classes that I have attended, I got to know a teacher who was superbly good in diction and pronunciation but has a poor level of respect and tact. I could see how smart she dressed, how beautiful she walked, and how well she has mastered her speech. She was even successful at making us giggle in between her delivery. Upon the end of the class, however, she spotted a group of almost loquacious students on the far end of the room and started to spew hot lava from the opening of her mouth, pelting insulting words, such as calling them pea-brained, and besmirching the course these students are taking. It was then that I knew why many students try to avoid her class. 

I tried to find the justification for the act but I did not. Well, perhaps they were noisy. For such a shallow reason, it was still a sardonic thing to do. 

In such a noble profession, it is a disturbing reality that only a good amount of teachers are doing their jobs well and are dealing with it professionally. What then is their reason for becoming teachers? Salary? Benefits after retirement?

Teaching requires professionalism, therefore those who pursue this calling must look at things with reason, and must not be influenced by emotion; must be skilled and value-laden, and must not be a source of prejudice; must be a friend, and must not be the number one mortal enemy of the students. 
This might be college where the mentality of spoon-feeding is extracted and the value of independence is injected. This might be a high time for these pre-weaned mammals to face the realities and terrors of university life. But wouldn't it be better if the teachers are more student-friendly, more generous in giving grades to deserving students, and more tamed in their manner of speaking? Wouldn't it be better to motivate them and not to intimidate them?

With or without effect to the party concerned, I know that in the end it would still be up to the students to think of a good way to not only merely pass the subject but to learn from it even with the kind of teacher they have.

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