To familiarize with the environment and to acquaint ourselves with the sensory signals being received, we acquire knowledge. Knowledge raises the understanding of an individual towards facts, skills acquisition, descriptive analysis and information. Acquisition of knowledge comes in two modes: through on-hand experiences and education. Knowledge through experiences comes in natural and accumulate through time. On the other hand, acquisition of knowledge through education requires the effort of the individual under the guidance of a teacher – a professional one – in a process universally called “teaching.” Due to the complexities, complications, and hardships brought by life, our parents cannot simply be there all the time to teach us how to deal with life and to guide us thoroughly through our education. They must find ways to strive for the whole family. Some even endure the misery of being away from their loved ones. In this bitter reality, they hire teachers in their stead for the education of their children. With that, teachers became our second parents.
Therefore, teachers were given immense responsibility over the ones that they were imparting knowledge, or teaching, to… to the people they would be calling as students. It is such a vital responsibility. If they fail, then their students will face the perils of being ignorant in society. The fruits of their labors can produce students with varying degrees of productivity, based on their concerted efforts – ranging from those who would reach exemplary heights, to those bums in the streets. The jumpstart of their fate rest upon their teachers, who were responsible into guiding them and imparting knowledge – the treasure that can never be stolen.
That responsibility was no joke. Whatever fate their students would lead into, they would always be attributed to it. Teachers beam with pride as they witness, even from afar, the success that their students reached. It is for certain when their students become acknowledged for something, they would be asked about the ones who taught them in the first place. Fingers would be pointing to the teachers, more like saying “a job well done” to them. At the same time, they would be depressed upon seeing some of their former students faltering on the simplest of discourse or job. It was as if the teachers did not do well enough, not only to impart knowledge but also to establish the communication of knowledge. Soon, the shame would settle in and they would be forever perturbed for the students’ failure can mean negligence in the part of teachers. Such allegations or comments can dampen the teacher’s enthusiasm. That is why understandably, necessary measures were done. Those who did well were further encouraged to do better while those who fell behind were counseled or criticized with the intent of pushing the student to do better in the end.
Being a good teacher is not just being a kind teacher… but a teacher that gets the job done – to impart knowledge and make the learning experience memorable. Teachers are our first line of defense against ignorance, against the depreciation of the value of education, the ever-growing indolence and, irresponsibility among fellow Filipinos. One of our national heroes, Dr. Jose Rizal, only 62 inches tall, the one who stood proudly and fought against the injustices, tyranny and malaise of our society, whose unwavering passion and ideals transcended beyond death into becoming a national dogma, saw education as our salvation and the key to our future. An innocent mind is gullible and can fall to the lies that were being forced down to it as “truth”. Teachers must guide those innocent minds against such predatory hegemony and towards a path of rationality and truth. Teachers must lead away the students from accepting the culture of worthlessness, where worthlessness is encourage as well as fatalism and pessimism towards life. Teachers, having that key role, must withstand the challenges of life outside the classroom. They must remain passionate towards their jobs by not treating it as a mere profession to earn money for a living. They must also resist the urges of indolence and inaction for it might be passed to their students, a contagious disease it is, further magnifying it’s adverse effects. The teachers hold the baton that our forefathers fought for and liberated.
Teaching is not just about imparting knowledge, but also about appreciating knowledge. Teaching should not just be a mere memorization exercise. Teaching should venture into imparting the actual soul of the knowledge to the minds of the students. The actual soul not only represents the framework of the knowledge but also it’s essence and appreciation. The soul of the knowledge will not just enter one ear and exit on the other, nor lay in store in the short term memory bank, soon to be discarded some time in the future, but stay in the mind forever as if it incorporates itself with your soul and as if it will be valuable treasure that can never be stolen.
An average math teacher merely makes the students memorize that the Distributive Property of Addition and Multiplication is the property that states that multiplying a sum by a number is the same as multiplying each addend by the number and then adding the products. But a good math teacher can show that the said property can also speed up our mental math solving involving multiplication of big number by breaking one number down into two addends – to numbers which we’re still familiar with – then multiplying each addend by the number and then adding the products (Example: 7 x 15 = 7 x (8+7) = (7 x 8) + (7 x 7) = 56+49 = 105). Furthermore, a good math teacher can also show that the said property is vital for higher math discourses such as algebra and was able to connect precisely the topic to those higher discourses.
An average language teacher merely makes the students memorize the grammar of the language. But a good language teacher can make the students see and appreciate the complexities and the soul of the language, as if it was a living thing, as well as those who teach literature who must not only make their students be familiarized with the story but also make their students reflect on the characters motives. A good literature teacher can show that Javert from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables was not a villain at all, but rather a person who just see things in black and white.
An average history teacher merely makes the students memorize that Apolinario Mabini’s epitaph is The Sublime Paralytic. But a good history teacher can elaborate how Mabini was able to overcome his physical limitations of being a paralytic, into becoming the Philippines’ first prime minister, defending legally and sublimely the newly-born republic, by being the intransigent political and legal adviser of President Emilio Aguinaldo, against the political maneuverings and manipulations of the autonomists and the annexationaists within the government during that time, hence the said epitaph. Also with the wave of predatory historical revisionism taking place and with ignorance making people gullible towards mere propaganda as absolute truths. It is the history teachers’ duty to show the truth and debunk myths for their students. In the case of Marcos’ historical revisionism, teachers should not totally demonize the regime, because the student would then dismiss it as mere propaganda and persuasion and they would be emboldened towards defiance. But they should be able to elaborate the initial successes of the Marcos’ regime, the causes it championed, the sectors it antagonized, and eventually its devastating failures in the end, as well as the complications on the transition during the next administrations that followed. They should be able to shed light to the question on Martial Law and authoritarianism, to the miseries brought by its oppressive measures, as well as explaining that discipline should not take its roots from fear but from the individual’s determination and perseverance in becoming a good and respectable citizen.
It requires a lot of effort to do that. It is no easy job. But these teachers answered the call of duty for our country. There is nothing more nobler than being a teacher. Let us stop for a while to appreciate and thank them for their efforts.
The body of knowledge is ever-growing as pioneers unravel new things, discover relationships and establish new branches of knowledge. As the body of knowledge expands, the standards of education go higher and higher. As it is to accepting the challenge of a mountain, life’s only path was up and forward. Our teachers became our very ladders that lead us into greater heights. It is such an honor, to be a student to such great teachers. These teachers encouraged me to do better. During the short time that I have in public school, I went beyond everyone’s expectations, with my endless spur of energy gracing every field. I’ve led some school organizations. I’ve competed and excelled in academic competitions as well as in academics. I’ve become an editor of a school paper. I was able to build a library. I represented various sectors within the school. I was acknowledged as a member of the school elite. What more can I ask for? It’s all thanks to my teachers there. I’ve also done the same during my college days. As an achiever, expectations are getting higher, but it is an honor to pursue such expectations, because now I must return the favor of them being good teachers to me by making them proud that they once taught a student like me.
Thank you, dear teachers.