On Teaching, Being A Teacher, and Seeing the Connections!

classroom I may no longer be employed as a teacher in an educational institution, I may not be teaching in a formal classroom anymore, but a teacher I will forever be.

“So what did you learn?”

I could still hear the voice of my Philosophical Foundation of Education professor when he made us think about our answers to his question … And so asked myself … “Did I learn anything?” Of course I did! And what did I learn? These: to know, understand, and accept the difference between the ideal, the feasible, and what is available.

seeing the connections That I should not be overwhelmed when I am confronted with the ugliness of what’s going on in the world … the immensity of the things that needs to be done, and the realization that at times, things will appear to be hopeless …

That I should not be discouraged; that I should never give up. As a teacher, I came to understand that I can never change the world – that would be too ambitious!

But, and here’s what I loved most … I can always make a difference in the lives of my students, one student at a time.

How? I learned that I can by examining my own belief system and understanding myself and understanding the why’s and the how’s – the reasons behind why I do things the way I do.

How? I can if I keep an open mind. I came to understand that there will be things that I will come across that will run contrary to what I believe in ; things that I will not like nor agree with. I learned that to disagree is okay as long as I don’t become disagreeable. I also learned that I don’t have to like everything; I just need to respect others and their opinions and beliefs. That’s what mature people do.

How can I help my students? By understanding the significance of the prefixes of every word I come across as an educator,  like in the word “learning” when the prefix ‘re’ is added and the word becomes ‘relearning’. The same is true when the prefix ‘un’ is added to ‘learning’ and we get ‘unlearning’. As a teacher I need to understand that prefixes may just be made up of two words, but when they are added, the resulting word and what it means becomes different … worlds apart. When I know the difference, and when I understand their implications, then I can help my students better …

How can I help my students? By preparing them to be ready to face the world, not just by teaching them skills like math and reading, but by showing them connections. When I am able to do that, when I am able to show them the relevance of what they are doing inside the classroom to what is actually happening in the real world, then I have succeeded as a teacher.

Why? Because my duty is not simply to fill their minds with lessons; it is to open their minds and encourage them to think, to search, to evaluate. My duty is to stir their minds into contemplation so they will see the connections, so that they will understand, and when they do, they will have the willpower to act on what they believe in … to act and not be acted upon. For after all, life is about learning and making choices, for these are the two gifts God gave every human being born to this earth, minds to think things through and the agency to choose.

I am part of that learning; I am God’s hand; I am His instrument; mine is a sacred duty. I am a teacher … and I will always be.

Special thanks to my Philosophical Foundation of Education professor Dr. Carlos Roque Magtrayo of Xavier University. Thank you for ‘disturbing my comfort zone’ and for showing me the connections!  

To my wonderful classmates, thank you for contributing to my learning. I have learned so much from all of you! 

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