Wednesday, April 21, 2010

are they the future of the world?

i graduated from college in 1998, a long, long time ago. i remember that during my freshman year, i submitted papers using my portable typewriter since i didn't get a computer until my sophomore year. and even then, when i needed to research something, i remember having to go to the library, and actually use the card catalogue. needless to say, while we had the internet then, it was slow and it didn't have as much stuff as it did now.

enrollment meant waking up at five p.m. and waiting outside the classroom door that will enlist you for that much-coveted subject (hello GE subjects and PE!). and since we didn't have cellphones and text messaging yet, if you end up getting the wrong schedule, or not getting the schedule at all, on the scheduled days of enrollment, well, then good luck in getting in through pre-rog.

despite all these "challenges", i graduated from college. true, it was painless, but at the same time, it didn't kill me. it didn't even send me running to the college secretary's office in despair. on the contrary, i remember that in my last semester of college, i had to go head-to-head with one of my favorite teachers since she wouldn't allow me to take an additional subject (so that i could finish the coursework in time for graduation) because she felt that with practicum, i would not be able to hack it. i teamed up with the college secretary (oh, robinson soria, you were, and still is, the best college secretary, IMHO) and fought favorite teacher's committee, citing this university policy and what not, just so i can enroll.

after graduation, i was invited to teach in this university and while the school's name has been much maligned in UP (i remember friends pointing out it sounded like a beauty contest title), i didn't hesitate to join the university's faculty. and in the six years i taught there, i met some of the greatest students in the world. there was this student who was on full scholarship and submitted handwritten papers since she didn't have a computer. she'd apologize to me for not complying with the requirements but i didn't mind. she was bright, and she put in a looooot of effort. she was good. one of her classmates apparently hated me with a passion cause i was so hard on them, but the following semester, the same student approached me to apologize (albeit indirectly) and told me how she was glad i forced them to do the stuff i made them do cause she knew stuff her other classmates didn't.

a lot of times, i pushed the students to their limits, and the best students pushed back. some students were really brilliant, and it made the drudgery of checking papers worth it. i was proud when i heard about one student making it to UP Law, and a couple of them putting up their own schools. so many have gone on, in such a short time, to be much greater than i am today, and i can't help but be proud of the small part i played in their growth as individuals.

i therefore cannot help but be disappointed when it seemed that year after year, the students i'd get in my classroom "deteriorated" in quality. the first couple of batches rose to the occasion, the subsequent batches went up to the dean to complain. when we challenged them to do something, they challenged us with administrative complaints.

this summer, i'm teaching another course in the university. and guess what, one day after i handed out the reading assignments, the college secretary called me saying the students were complaining since i gave them 9 cases to read.

did i not know that the students had other courses for that summer?
are these cases necessary?

i wanted to tell her, hey, i have a full time job and i have to read those cases too. hey, i don't only have to read those cases, i have to prepare questions so that i can draw out the learning i want from the students. hey, unless the read, i'll end up making them memorize concepts only and where's the learning there. hey, SINCE WHEN DID ACADEMIC FREEDOM MEAN YOU INTERFERING WITH MY SYLLABUS SINCE STUDENTS FOUND IT TOO DIFFICULT?

i restrained myself, and explained that (1) yes they're all necessary (2) i even taught them how to read cases and made a sample digest for them (3) they were given 48 hours to read these cases and (4) its the same as last year's caseload.

i don't know what's going to happen. allegedly 5 or so kids are dropping out cause it's too difficult (good luck, i'll be the teacher again next year and who knows if i'll be even tougher then). i don't know if the dean will have to talk to me about it (uhm, maybe i should fire off an email just to be sure to explain my side).

but there's one thing i do know: i hope that between the time the students complained and the time they make it out to the real world, some big change happens. otherwise, we'd be sending out half-baked children into the real world where there won't be any "dean" to make life easier for them.

*image from www.artsjournal.com

1 said hello!:

exchange.ph said...

oh rosa I am so proud of you right now.

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