A TELEVISION variety show was suspended because one of its judges said demeaning things about teachers. The judge said and I quote "Huwag kayo makukuntento sa mga itinuturo ng libro at ng teacher. Kung magtatanong kayo, hindi masama iyon. Dahil ang mga teacher, they were just repeaters. Tinuturo lang nila kung ano ang itinuro sa kanila. Hindi na nila itinuturo kung ano ang gusto malaman ng mga bata."

That statement is not at all surprising. It is even more interesting when you consider the source.

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For years, teachers have been the butt of insults and jokes. When you watch Filipino movies and television shows the teacher is stereotyped as some kind of clown or buffoon. He or she is pictured as witless and brainless and stupid. The teacher becomes the victim of mindless pranks that range from throwing chalk at the teacher to burning his or her ass.

In this country, the teacher is shown to be some kind of idiotic clown who does not know what he or she is doing.

Seldom and it is really very seldom that you get to watch teachers in Filipino films who are hard working, dedicated and creative. Most of the time, the teachers portrayed in our films are dummies maybe because these teachers appear in youth oriented films which makes it worse.

If you show teachers to be inane to young people, what lesson are you teaching? What are you telling the young people of today? But that is not surprising in this country.

In developed countries, many films are produced to show the nobility of the teaching profession.

Films like Goodbye Mr. Chips, Lean on Me, Stand by Me, Dead Poet's Society, Freedom Writers and Mr. Holland's Opus just to name a few celebrate the idealism of teaching and what one person can do.

That does not happen here. Here we make fun of our teachers, here we show teachers to be moronic fools whose existence is primarily to be the butt of insults, teasings and juvenile pranks. There is something very wrong in a country that tolerates such behavior.

But then again, that is not surprising in a country like ours after all we live in a country where we adore persons who can hardly act or sing. We elect persons who should not be trusted and we reject those we can trust. We give parades to boxers while we hardly do anything to persons who push carts to help street children learn.

I taught for over 25 years and I know teaching is one of the most difficult jobs there is. (Well at least it is more difficult than taking off one's clothes which anyone can do.) Not everyone can teach, well at least teach effectively. It takes a lot of idealism and patience and skill and knowledge and attitude to it right.

And to top everything the pay is not high but as I say if the salary is your first consideration then you should not teach.

I really get mad when persons make fun of teachers because I know a lot of teachers who are committed to their work and their students. I find their passion inspiring and uplifting. I see teachers who just plod on and on in the face of almost dizzying challenges that range from apathetic students to superiors who do not know what they are doing, to condescending parents, to real low salaries, mountains of papers to check, relentless lesson plans, never ending tasks and what have you.

And then with that at your back, a teacher faces a class filled with students who just watched a film about how teachers are made the butts of jokes and insults. Wonderful.

Teachers do not teach what students want to know.

Teachers teach what students must know in a manner that they want to know.

Teaching is not about giving what students want, rather it is giving them what should be given so that they can have the courage to open doors and look at the same horizon that is now different because a teacher had the vision and the commitment to make the student see what was hidden from him but which was there all along. A teacher opens eyes. A teacher points the way and then steps aside.