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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Question of Criterion

Our family is just one of the many families here in the Philippines who employ maids while at the same time allowing them to pursue an education. Since I can remember we already had more than 10 maids, mostly from our home province of Romblon or former students of my mother who wanted to continue schooling. The maid who raised me was a college graduate herself and is now teaching in Iloilo courtesy of our family of course. Until now, the tradition lives on and despite my mom being in the States, we still have a maid who works and studies at the same time.

Our maid, though not as bright and cunning as the past maids were, is industrious when it comes to school work. One day she had a project in Araling Panlipunan -- to make a diorama that depicts Western colonialism in Asia and the rise of nationalism. Being an Araling Panlipunan teacher myself, she requested my help on the endeavor. She canvassed all the needed materials and did all the handwork herself. I provided her with the picture of what the diorama should look like. In the end, the project looked splendid. It had toy soldiers on both sides, representing the Asians and the Westerners at war with each other. It had waving flags, fake trees, miniature houses, even electric posts! It was a miniature World War II I should say. Our maid was enthusiastic that she'll be given a nice grade for the task.

The next morning she went to school and passed the project.

It was not until the following day that I asked her about the result. I was busy at work, but then I noticed the "typhoon-stricken" diorama lying on top of her bunk. I asked her what happened. She said the teacher did not accept the project for it wasn't what she's expecting to see.

My ears were ringing at the exact words.

She kept on explaining. What the teacher wanted to see were galleons, with the Spanish and Filipinos on a skirmish, like a scene from Mactan or where else. What she wanted was a diorama enclosed in a box with glass or plastic wrapping. Despite the fact that she was the only one who passed the project, the teacher wasn't that kind to accept it.

My ears were fuming this time.

I am a teacher myself, and I know that projects needs extensive planning and specification before it is assigned to students. I am infuriated by the fact that the teacher did not communicate to the class the specifications of the diorama she wanted. There were no details on size, length, type of material to be used. There wasn't specification on the exact scene she wanted portrayed. There wasn't even criteria for judging. No details on how much will the students be getting out of the project. With all these details lacking, we proceeded on making the project based on our own understanding of the instructions.

But what infuriated me most is the lack of consideration. The fact that she was the only one in class who submitted a working, concrete diorama, there should've been room for consideration even if she did not pass the criteria set (that is if there is one indeed).

I am a teacher who is trying his best to keep this profession noble and praiseworthy. I will not keep my mouth shut in this incident which mocks the teaching profession. This is not the way teachers should conduct projects and other facets of measurement and evaluation. This teacher must be rebuked. I got my pen and paper out and immediately wrote the teacher in question. I reasoned out point-by-point, rebutting her apparent lack of standards. I demanded an explanation from her.

An explanation which up to now hasn't been heard of. I plan on bringing up the issue to the higher authorities of that school. When I asked my aunt who is also a teacher in the same school, she said that I should let go of the issue considering that the said teacher is pregnant as we speak. But then again that will not be an excuse for her un-teacher manner of instruction. If I let her off the hook, the system will remain rotten and any attempts at change will just be eaten up by corruption.

I hope she gets to read this blog so that she might realize her mistakes in judgment. As for other teachers, I hope this will set as a catalyst for us to continue on pursuing what lawful and just not only in giving out projects but also in our entire teaching routine.

Once again, another day in the secret life of a teacher.

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