A Letter to Would-be Teachers

Emma Braams By Emma Braams, 17th Apr 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Letters

Teaching is not only a profession it is also a mission and a vocation.

A Letter to Would-be Teachers

The words ‘thank you’ will never be enough to express how grateful I am to the relentless support of the people (scholarship benefactors, professors, counselors, family, confidants, and few great people who inspired me with their life stories, books and personalities) who helped me in my education. They did not only journey with me in my four-year training as a will-be-educator but they also served as one of my scaffolds in achieving my goals.

This letter may not contain pragmatic advice like that of Father Joseph V. Landy’s Letters to a Young Teacher: The Art of being Interesting. This letter is just a simple sharing on some of the things which contributed in my essence and existence as a Jesuit educated educator.

When I received a scholarship for a degree in education from the university which I am much indebted and honored to be part of, I know that my stay will not be easy and indeed it was not. I have endured countless sleepless nights just to meet deadlines; I have also skipped meals to review notes and prepare assigned works, and also stomached remarks from my professors who will make you say ‘Our Father…’ for the letter grade they will give you at the end of each semester. I know all of these are fossilized events of college students, and I do not regret any of these experiences but even feel grateful; however, the greatest experiences which truly marked my teaching ideology are my social involvements thru the University.

I am blessed to be part of organizations which devote time to help marginalized learners. These organizations conduct outreach activities like extending needed school supplies, conducting seminars on how to develop study habits or programs concerning health, and the like. One of these organizations, through the University Social Involvement Council, conducts reading sessions.
Thru this organization, I have truly seen that in a society where paucity is evident in the number of times little fingers scrape food on their plates and on how many times family seats around the table to share their meals, education, occupation, and money are truly everything.
This is not just hearsay or common notions of people who have seen poverty. I, for one, am well aware how my parents worked soul-exhausted just to get us through to our elementary and high school years and how I also jumped the greatest hurdle to attain a scholarship. I am well aware how my parents get anxious when they receive demand letters from banks telling them to pay their debts.
Every Reading Session we had, we are greeted by children hungry not only for food but also for knowledge, by few parents whose age lines tell you how poverty robbed their youth and that it will be the same for their children; and few faces telling you, you are a nuisance coming all the way from a City just to take away another hand for their Saturday harvest.
Some of the students that I have encountered confessed that the greatest educational achievement they could attain and that their family could still sustain is high school. They are no longer expected to earn a degree because they are much needed in the field where the rest of the family till the land they do not even own. They are already expected to add food to the table, support their siblings, or bring more money home.

I think education students like me have long been writing reflection paper and/or reaction paper with regard our edification process and when they step out of their training grounds and face the real deal, they are full of aspirations and/or plans to serve their purpose- to mold the youth into future Rizals, to teach the marginalized and to cross seven seas and mountains just to serve those who are hungry for knowledge but is deprived of the opportunity. However, why at some point these teachers lost that gratifying sense of being an educator? When? Why? What happened in the process? Did the system rob their passions? Or, did they just let themselves be robbed of their passion?

I am alarmed because I too wish to teach those who need education most, I too wish to see our country breeding with internationally competent but locally serving individuals; but how will I attain these aspirations when what await me are physical structures which cannot be even considered an avenue for learning.

Sometimes I am drawn not to get all my hopes up that I can polish every student in my room into intrinsically driven learners. But if I will not get all my hopes up I might be also drawing back to the vocation and mission I am prepared for. It is like conditioning my body to run a marathon that I will not participate in.

Our learning system when put into paper aspire nothing but to hone the youth into an equipped- cognitively, socially and emotionally- human power thru providing them general education that will give rise to their potentials, to live a quality and productive life in a changing society and ultimately to be leaders of the nations which is, I believe, a concrete proof of how perfectly contoured our path is when it comes to receiving our education.

The people behind the system know where we are directed and how we are to journey towards that ultimate goal. But why, with all these visions, the mission is not fully attained at the end? I am tempted to think that during conceptualization we overlooked main hurdles like lack of budget; but we should not let this be an excuse not to offer and not to receive quality education,especially when this education is serving the future leaders of our country.
Aside from the budget, there are still a lot of interwoven social crisis involve in our heavily laden education.

Yes, it is easy to criticize the system; it is easy to find faults and point finger to people or issues that we think should take the blame, it is easy to say that we need change and we need it now, but it is really hard to fashion a concrete or tangible solution that will end these woes and sighs.

The only thing that I can think of right now is the thought of not giving up on our education. I think when we really aspire to be a true educator, when we really aspire to produce competent learners whatever is lacking can be supplemented. We might not be able to contribute to the budget of our education but we can contribute by being an active human resource of our country.

Let us take the concept of flow of Csikszentmihalyi, ‘the best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile’.

Let us be inspired by Teacher Lea Gabriel (one of the teachers who made Sindangan Elementary School in Southern Leyte topped the 2006 National Elementary Achievement Test (NEAT) given by the Department of Education for graduating public school elementary students. [See 'Iskul ko, no. 1'/'My school is no. 1' I-Witness by Sandra Aguinaldo) and other educators who view the teaching profession as a passion.

We are called to teach, to educate the youth, to inspire them to achieve more, so those are I think what we should do. We should not give up on these children just because we do not have resources or just because our pay does not justify the blood and sweat we have shed just to engrave ABC or 123 in their memory.

One of my professors, using the devil’s advocate teaching strategy, told our class that once you are in the educational system YOU WILL BE HELPLESS and you cannot do anything about its crisis but to follow the current or go with the flow. But if this will always be our perspective then nothing will really happen, I say LET US NOT BE HELPLESS, for what is the sense of pouring our hearts and souls in preparing ourselves to be teachers? What is the use of ardently listening to our messiah like teachers with all their lectures, topic-related stories, and aspirations for us? And, what is the use of writing all our reflection papers if these will not be put into practice or be actualized just because we are swept along with the current of whatever pandemic we think our educational system has?

I am hoping that though my profession, our profession, is cognitively and physically tiring, my heart, our hearts, will not get tired of teaching every single day of a week, every single week of a month, and every single month of a year.


Love For Teaching, Passion For Teaching, Teach, Teachers, Teaching

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author avatar Emma Braams
Words tell what one cannot fathom.

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author avatar David Reinstein,LCSW
22nd Apr 2012 (#)

This is true not only of the Phillipines.... It is the ubiquitous reality of the needs and demands we must hope for in those who will educate our children.... everywhere.

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author avatar Funom Makama
23rd Apr 2012 (#)

A fantastic share.... Nice work friend!

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