Sunday, February 10, 2008

What Education Means to Me

After having experienced teaching the English Language Arts (ELA) at all levels and being exposed to different classroom situations that involved both traditional and progressive approaches to education, I have become eclectic in my own approach to educating young learners and do not adhere to one principle alone because education is dynamic. It constantly seeks to make itself relevant by combining the reliability of the past and the innovation of the present. Hence, I try to find what approaches and methods are more useful and appropriate given the classroom situation at hand and the kind of learners I am dealing with at the moment. Classroom situations and learners vary each year and no one can say that only one method is applicable and relevant.

However, I do have my own educational bias. Though, I prefer the combination of progressive and traditional approaches, I tend to favor progressive methods, especially when I am dealing with young learners who need activities that are concrete, creative and enjoyable. That is why I would like my pupils to experience a concept or a skill instead of just using the textbook all the time. It is not that I am against textbooks, being a textbook writer myself, but there are other ways to learn a concept or a skill that are more meaningful, less boring and more concrete, especially if the learners are young.

With the advent of the Multiple Intelligences Theory conceptualized by Dr. Howard Garner, whom I heard speak here in Manila, I realize and now firmly believe that there are many ways to develop skills and learn concepts through the interaction of all the intelligences with one another to achieve genuine understanding and to make education less fragmented and more holistic. For example, learners should be allowed to comprehend that there is math in language and language in math. The same goes with science, social studies, music, arts, physical education, and other non-academic subjects. Of course, there is still the compartmentalization of each subject area in school and it is unavoidable, but this doesn’t mean that there is no relationship among the subject areas. Aside from relating the different subject areas with one another, the Multiple Intelligences Theory has made me more aware of the idea that educators should not only focus on academic excellence but should also recognize that there are existing intelligences other than IQ. All of these are as relevant and as important as the traditional description of human intelligence which is embodied by the term “IQ.”

I believe that the Emotional Quotient or EQ is as important as the Intelligence Quotient or IQ of the learner. As I have said above, in the past, educators just focused on academic excellence. There was too much emphasis on the development of the linguistic, the mathematical and the logical competence of the learner and too much trivialization of the emotional, social and spiritual dimensions of human beings. No wonder many traditional educational institutions have produced academically brilliant students who are socially inept, emotionally immature, and morally ambiguous. Learners need to develop social skills so that they can interact well with other people, maintain good relationships, and be responsible for their actions in the society they live in. Aside from these aspects, they should also develop a sound moral compass so that they will be able to make good judgments of a person’s character or a tricky situation where choices have to be made.

Education to me has always been not only the transmission and facilitation of knowledge from the teacher to the students, but also the development of each child’s character so that he or she can make positive contributions to society by being competent socially, morally, emotionally, and intellectually. This is the reason why educating young learners is such a tremendous task and responsibility. Teachers do not educate young minds alone. They also educate young souls.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Pinoy Mail Order Brides (Part 2)

Lest I be accused of giving pinoy mail order brides a hard time, I am here to present the other side of the coin--the grooms of the pinoy mail order brides.
I have lambasted my fellow pinays for choosing the mail-order-bride route to get out of poverty. However, the mail order bride websites would not have made such a killing had there been a dearth of foreign men seeking filipino wives overseas. Come on, they are the ones who usually pay just to meet that "ideal" petite filipina who will be willing to serve them hand and foot.
I think a lot of foreign men from the First World think that most Asian women are subservient. I mean given the fact that First World women tend to know their rights more and generally fight for these rights and are more aggressive, Asian women can be seen as meek and gentle. Well, in a way, Asian women will seem so in comparison but in the Philippines, a lot of Filipinas have become streetsmart and have mastered the art of survival.
Now why would foreign men seek Filipino mail order brides in the first place? Some have told me that they were fed up with their countrywomen for being too materialistic and too rights-conscious. They wanted someone more malleable, less materialisic, and more loving. Okay, I can buy that! Who doesn't want someone like that? However, are Filipinas really less materialistic, more malleable, and more loving? It depends.
I hear a lot of complaints from foreign men that they've been had by their Filipino mail order brides. They said these women just loved their money and the chance to get a green card (for brides of US citizens) or the chance to travel abroad, etc. etc..... Hey, do they think for one minute that an 18-yr-old Filipina will fall in love with a 40-60 something gent? Who are they kidding? Deep inside, they should know that someone so young must be looking for something else, especially if they think that they are such a good catch because of their foreign currency!
And I also question the motives of some of these men. Do they really want to rescue a Filipina from poverty? Or do they want someone they can use as a servant at home? Maybe, if they are that old, they are also seeking a would-be caregiver. I heard that some men have used their Filipina brides as punching bags. This goes for other asian mail order brides as well.
Please don't give me the reason of finding true love. I am too much of a cynic to believe that. Not that it couldn't happen, but in this fallen world, we love someone for a reason. It may be the looks, the financial success, the power, the potential, or the glory. But we love conditionally. Even I am guilty of this.
I guess, both parties deserve what they get. If, on the other hand, one of the parties was truly and desperately seeking true love but got duped in the process, then I can only state that all is not fair in love and war. We do get our fair share of bad experiences. Unfortunately, we can never tell if a relationship will be good for us unless we tried it. It is really a big gamble. We can only minimize the damage by crossing out unfavorable circumstances. I think, one of these unfavorable circumstances is ordering brides abroad.