Seeking for the country’s better future is like searching for someone who possesses characteristics of a superhuman who will transform every individual in school to a better person, ‘science aficionados’, and that she shall be later named as — TEACHER!
Teacher was educated in a way that one could readily envision. She was tasked to listen to her mentors all the time, speak once and listen more. Teacher was also trained to read and memorize information written in the most dynamic tool of her time known as books. She was exposed to colossal canonical knowledge of the renowned transformational medium of the society recognized as science, of which she needs to religiously test experiments based upon the mentor’s stringent procedures. Poor Teacher never tried to do things her way…
Now, Teacher needs to metamorphosize! She has to be someone far from her mentors, away from the system that one is sitting in the classroom while the master is giving specific, tried and tested, time established facts about the world she’s living. At this moment, she is required to be optimistic and have much faith in education to bring about the vision of quality basic science education for all (Savater 2004 In Current Challenges in Basic Education).
Teacher needs to have in-depth pedagogical content knowledge about her learners so she can bring about the change expected from her labour (Brophy 1991 p.350 in Current Challenges in Basic Education). She has to learn and continuously learn for her life to worth her name as — Teacher.
What more can Teacher do? She has to present new and varied strategies in teaching science. She has to overhaul the curriculum in a way that it will fit to students’ interest. Teacher also has to work on the specific ideas on the way science encircles the lives of her students including risks, value and ethics involving this study. She has to introduce science investigations which are more varied, with explicit attention paid to investigative principles. She will then relate science to students’ capabilities such as analytical thinking, communicating and working in teams, creativity and imagination. Furthermore, Teacher will link science with local community setting that represent contemporary science practices and concerns. Another task not to be left behind is to assess how she is meeting the standards, the assessment of investigative capabilities, the capacity to explore science in social and ethical context, reasoning and imagination and understandings of the nature of science. Finally, Teacher needs to align her thoughts and principles toward a re-imagined school science. Wheeeew! Is that all she has to do? But wait, there’s more!(Strands in a re-imagined science curriculum p. 64 in Reimagining Science Education).
Prior to this, particular advice are coming from left and right: Teacher has to learn on how to interact more effectively with students, on a day-to-day basis, promoting their learning (Black and Harrison, 2004). Even challenges such as: if Teacherwants students to solve problems, answer open-ended questions, and actually performas is called for by many educational reformers (Silver, Strong, & Perini, 2000,) then teststhat measure performance must be developed, also comes her way. She was even warned about a number of advantages of self-assessment: self-monitoring and checkingprogress, diagnosis and recognition of learning needs, promoting good learning practices andlinking learning practices (Harrison and Harlen2006 In Hodgson and Pyle 2007, Assessment for Learning in Science). Much more, a community and even a country rely on an adequate supply of trained scientists at many levels from laboratory technicians to pure and applied scientists to bring the changehas to be addressed too. (Albornoz 2001 In Current Challenges in Basic Science Education)
In addition to this is the issue of globalization that focuses on the development of information and communication technology, which itself has concerns on differential access (Nasseh 2000 In Current Challenges in Basic Science Education) and even usage in a creative way. Other issues such as the use of mother-tongue, gender equality and research also require equal attention.
But can Teacher do all of these? She wants to, and really would want to, but let us hear from her sentiments and try to discern what she feels about the so many expectations the society loads over her shoulders.
(Teacher’s open letter to you.)
It is overwhelming and flattering to know that you are searching for me. Although it has been a while since I last took a chance in answering your call, I thought that it would really be a nice if I am going to accept your challenge today. I, myself have various challenges to face in this life lately. I need to feed a child and send him to a good school. I also need to have a good dwelling place so I can live a descent life at par with my former colleagues who are now earning hundreds of thousand by working as politicians, engineers, architects, doctors, accountants, computer analysts and technicians. Lately I had been suffering with back ache; the long hours of working somehow weakened my old physical stature. As you have in mind, teaching in a developing country requires several hours of dealings. I also had run out of supplies, chalk, Manila papers and cartolina were gone since last year. I tried to prolong their lives but it was just too hard. Oh! Before I forgot, my classroom has been ruined by typhoon Kurap, the walls of my classroom was carried by the strong winds and I am barely imagining how it was before this nightmare. They say that it will be fixed the soonest possible time but it was already a year and we still conduct our classes under the old mango tree, which fortunately survived the catastrophe. I went up to the mayor’s office yesterday to report the case but unluckily he was not there to attend me. Please believe me that prior to this challenge, I had been teaching in the best way I can. I prepare lesson plans and try to update myself with the current techniques and strategies in teaching science. I am really trying to deviate with the kind of learning I had when I was young, I even tried improvising experiments during laboratory periods. I thought it would be easy because it was just so nice to dream about, but I was wrong. Educating me towards information and communications technology sounds so good but I don’t have a computer and an internet connection to support this new learning. I tried varied assessment techniques but it was too time-consuming, as you know I teach for eight hours and still needs to make lesson plans for tomorrow since it really need to be updated plus the household chores I regularly have to attend. In as much as would like to persuade more of my students to become scientists and work on allied fields, I always run out of answers when they asked me about having financial rewards on this jobs without leaving the country. I also had some confusion on what language to use, the department during my time issued a memorandum that English has to be promoted along with Science terminologies but now they say it should be bilingual or even vernacular. It was like being caught in a cycle that never stops and when it does maybe, that is the time to bid the world goodbye. But please don’t think that I am giving up on this flight, I am never hopeful as I am right now because of the inspiration that you have brought today! I still have this faith that very soon science education for all will be achieved and that I will still be around to see the fruits of this pits. But please once more, allow me to say these things to you my dear, this is not my fight alone. It is our duty to educate our young; as what the old adage goes: it takes a village to educate a child. You need to support me so I can work in the way you expect me to. You need to provide for my needs so I will not resort to other ways to suffice my necessities. You have to provide me not a day seminar for pleasure and fun but a sustainable program that can build my capacity in teaching the learners of your generation. We have to make a covenant now. You in the politics, policy-making, civic-organizations, or wherever you are, you’ve got to help me for I cannot do this alone! Please don’t let be me alone, remember that I let you step inside my classroom and learn I hope you will do the same for me now.
Very truly yours,
Juana dela Cruz
Grade Six Teacher
Malaking-bato Elementary School
Teacher a.k.a. Superhuman…. Found… Reward — Philippines’ better future… Buffering… Analyzing… Saving Data… Options: New, Save, Save as, Control Alt Delete… Buffering… …. …. … To be continued…