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Teachers and Employees’ Day

Date Posted: October 10, 2017 at 03:08 PM


Homily delivered by Fr. Marcelo V. Manimtim, CM, president of Adamson University during the Mass at the St. Vincent de Paul Parish Church on October 6, 2017 in celebration of Teachers and Employees’ Day

 

     


Yesterday, we in the Philippines celebrated “The Teachers’ Day,” the end of a month-long celebration in other countries. At Adamson, our celebration focuses not only on the teachers, the faculty members. We include the co-academic staff and the other employees to bring home the point that we are all together in the educative mission. This is the sense of the first reading we hear from the letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians, that “grace is given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gifts.” Some are called to be apostles, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers to equip everyone for the building up of the body of Christ. In our case, we are given the work to be administrators, directors, teachers and staff, so that living and practicing the truth in love, acting like supporting ligaments, we bring about the growth of the whole community. Has anyone wondered about the motto of the university? What is the motto? Veritas in Caritate – living the truth in love is taken from this letter of St. Paul.

What we say about teachers, we say, too, in great measure, of others who share in the educative mission of the university. In many forms of media, people have been asked to say something about their teachers. You would have noticed several things about the comments or responses. Many say this, in different forms: “Apart from my parents, my teachers have done the most to shape my life.” Notable is George Lucas, acknowledged as one of the most creative film producers of our era; and among those who say the fore mentioned, say it to refer to their teachers in grade and high school.  The meaning is clear, we give credit to teachers in our more formative period.

When we wonder about the reasons for the weakness of the educational system in the country, I believe part of the reasons is found in the foundational stage of the system, in the pre-elementary, elementary and secondary stages. Instances are made of the systems followed in some countries like Finland and Japan that contrast dramatically from ours. Yet, since the educative process continues, we continue to stress the crucial role of teachers for the development of our country.

The teacher’s role in society becomes the more relevant as we talk of the human capital. In this instance, I recall the plea that educators (led by PACU members) made to President Duterte to approve the house bill that became Republic Act 10931 or the “Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.” We made the appeal that as he promised the project of “Build, Build, Build” referring to the infrastructures that would jumpstart the economy, not to forget the “human capital” involved in the Quality Tertiary Education Act.  The human capital that we talk of in education captures the social, biological, cultural and psychological complexity of the human being that we find in the educative process.

To capacitate teachers and co-academic staff for this gigantic task of fashioning the human capital into its full potential, we understand several things need to happen. I am saying this not as illusory desiderata but as expressions of things that we would like to happen in Adamson. They are general terms that we would like to put concrete measures to in Adamson. Several of them are already happening; others we need to strengthen.  They are the following: access to high-quality training and opportunities for professional development. Others would want to put the matters bluntly: “Teachers need bigger pay.” We’ll see! And teachers need to enjoy academic freedom. Several difficulties that we’ve faced involving faculty members, administrators and students point to the need that we discuss this issue seriously.  

What are the qualities that we see in a good teacher? There are so many, so allow me to mention a few.

1.     Expertise. A teacher knows the subject intimately and present it in an enthralling way. After decades of changing texts and instructional methods, the most active ingredient in improving schools are the knowledge and skill of teachers. Early this morning, I read this story in Facebook.  A giant ship engine failed. The ship’s owners tried one expert after another, but none could figure out how to fix the engine. Then they brought in an old man who had been fixing ships since he was young. He carried a large bag of tools with him, and when he arrived, he immediately went to work. He inspected the engine carefully, from top to bottom. Two of the ship’s owners were there watching this man, hoping he would know what to do. After looking things over, the old man reached into his bag and pulled out a small hammer. He gently tapped something. Instantly, the engine lurched into life. He carefully put his hammer away. The engine was fixed! A week later, the owners received a bill from the old man for ten thousand dollars. “What?!” the owners exclaimed. “He hardly did anything!” So they wrote the old man a note saying, “Please send us an itemized bill.” The man sent a bill that read: tapping with a hammer: $2.00, knowing where to tap: $9,998.00. Effort is important, but knowing where to make an effort makes all the difference!

Those of us who attended the ICRRADGC 2017 would remember the comment that Sec. de la Peña of DOST made. He suggested that research as condition of promotion of faculty members be revisited, as he alluded to the excellent work that teachers do in their instructional expertise.

Expertise refers not only to content but also to methodology and person management. I remember the old missionary in the Solomon Islands, when he learned that I was starting the seminary. He said simply, you may not know all the facts and information to give to the students, but teach them where to find them. Teacher dominated classroom has to give way to teacher facilitated classroom. The teacher guides the students to use technology to find the latest information, assess its validity and communicate with experts.

 

2.     Compassion. The teacher spends more time in direct contact with students in the classrooms. The teacher needs to understand that students’ attitudes and emotions need nurturing in the learning process. This applies equally to the time and attention that service counters in the university give to all the clients. Teaching and learning is about their hearts as well as their minds. Instead of competition, students have to be taught teamwork, to collaborate with each other. Instead of cut-throat competition, students have to be taught the values of love and compassion. There is a saying in Latin, which goes: Nemo dat quod non habet. Nobody gives what he/she does not have. We teach compassion if we give compassion. Teachers mold students into leaders of thought and action, into agents of social transformation by what happens in the classrooms.

3.     Dedication, a love for the job. If you believe in it, the students will believe in you and what you teach.

 

4.     And patience. Holding the power to shape the future is not easy. Learning is not done in urgency; it is a process, and progress can be slow. The more difficult and slow students you have, the more of patience you need to practice. You will not always see the fruits of your efforts, but continue with patience and they will come.

 

I would like to end with the gospel, which is the commissioning of the disciples. After the short time that he has spent with the disciples, teaching them, making them see what he does, making them understand their difficulties, Jesus sends the disciples to all nations, asking them to teach the peoples to observe all that he has commanded them. He assures them that he has given them the needed powers, and that he will be with them till the end of days. As we thank all the teachers, the co-academic staff and employees, be assured that you have received the commissioning of Christ. You hold the molding of the future of the land in your hands. Teach and mold and the Lord will bless you.