Tell it to SunStar: Voices in education

Tell it to SunStar: Voices in education
SunStar Tell it

By Herman M. Lagon

“Mga Munting Tinig (Small Voices),” a 2002 film that delves deep into our state of education, begins with a scene that resonates with many. As an idealistic music teacher, Alessandra de Rossi (Melinda) asks an older teacher why she chose to become a teacher. The experienced teacher’s response reveals a sense of resignation rather than passion for the profession. She explains that she became a teacher not out of a calling or passion for teaching but because she is the least in her family, and it was a practical choice given her circumstances.

This response highlights the contrast between Melinda’s idealism and the more pragmatic approach of the older teacher, underscoring a common theme in the film about the challenges and realities faced in our education system. This not only highlights the underappreciation of teachers but also opens a window to the broader spectrum of challenges and achievements in the field of education.

Recent studies from the Program for International Student Assessment (Pisa), Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS), and Philippine Business for Education (PBEd) paint a concerning picture: a significant portion of students are gravely underprepared for higher education, placing our country at the lowest ranks in global education standards. This issue is compounded by the migration of qualified teachers searching for better opportunities abroad, deepening the educational, learning crisis.

However, the essence of this column is not to linger on these challenges but to honor the irreplaceable role of teachers. Their value and contribution become more crucial in a landscape where exceptional educators are scarce. This is not a situation that warrants despair but rather a call for collective action and acknowledgment of educators’ vital role.

Dr. Onofre Pagsanghan of Ateneo de Manila once beautifully stated, “Teaching gives so much for so little.” This profound statement reminds us that teaching is more than a job; it is a vocation that is essential for the future of our nation. Most, if not all, teachers in this ever-evolving educational environment continue to stand resilient and motivated to drive change and challenge mediocrity.

Embracing Peter F. Drucker’s philosophy that “Learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change,” we see teachers as more than knowledge transmitters. They are facilitators of learning, guiding students to adapt and develop. Professor John Coolahan, an eminent figure in education, outlined essential attributes for lifelong learning educators, including self-awareness, professional competence, adaptability, teamwork, empathy, and compassion. These qualities are indispensable in forming strong connections with students, especially those facing educational hurdles.

Global and regional initiatives, Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO), Asean University Network (AUN), Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), aim to reinforce teacher education. These efforts, in line with Sustainable Development Goal 4 (Quality Education), offer comprehensive professional development for educators to ensure high-quality education.

Key to this professional development are deep subject matter knowledge, enhanced reflective practices, educational technology expertise, and a thorough understanding of students’ diverse needs. Effective teaching hinges on pedagogical content knowledge and the ability to craft a unique teaching style and innovation. Understanding students individually allows for tailored support and constructive feedback.

For great teachers epitomize the essence of lifelong learners. They continually evolve, advancing their skills to meet the dynamic needs of education. More than just imparting knowledge, teachers shape futures, igniting hope and nurturing a passion for learning in their students. Our appreciation and support for these educators are immeasurable, as their commitment and enthusiasm—despite all gargantuan odds—profoundly impact future generations.

Returning to “Ang Munting Tinig,” we are reminded of teachers’ profound influence and sacrifices. In the film, the journey of Melinda’s character mirrors the real-life experiences of many educators who, despite numerous obstacles, remain steadfast in their mission to enlighten and empower their students. This narrative, symbolic of the larger educational landscape, serves as a testament to teachers’ enduring spirit and resilience.

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