Teaching

Objectivity

ken-suarez-moalboal.jpg
Photo by Ken Suarez (Moalboal) — Taken from the Unsplash website

 

Can a social scientist remain objective especially in our time today?

Two Saturdays ago, a professor of mine (in my Historical Methods class), gave us an article each to read and review.  I was amused to find that Leloy (Lissandro) Claudio’s article on “Postcolonial Fissures” was not given to me.  “Ahhh, oh I have that article.  Sayang, ma’am ___, siya jud diay to sa Manila Hotel.  I should have my pic taken with him.”  😀  She told me, “Mao na ang reason I did not give the article to you” with a smile.

Ah yes, objectivity can be a challenge when reading an article written by someone I look up to and admire.  That brings me to the thought:  “Can one truly be subjective?”  How we write, what we write about and how we hypothesize always manage to color our thinking and theorizing.

I remember that incident as I reread my review of Claudio’s Rappler article “The Moralist Thinker in Digong’s Time” and I finally understood what my professor meant. Hah! The review I submitted was very “emotionally close” and emotional.  It was half intellectual and half emotional. I saw how wise it was of her to give me the postmodern article written by Dr. Hornedo.

It’s something I am looking forward to reading since I still am kind of ambivalent towards postmodernism and history given my training and background from Diliman.  I was taught and trained by professors who were allergic to the postmodern framework.  But then studying in USC has opened my eyes to different theories and perspectives that I am not familiar with since the department in Diliman, during my time,  was not so open to postmodern theory.   I remember a professor of mine who would smirk every time Foucault’s name was mentioned.

As a History major, I was hesitant to dabble in and explore other theories like postmodernism and Historicism but today I learned that part of growing up as an academic is to look at the unknown, unlearned and the unexplored.

I see it as like a child who wants to explore what her parents warned her about but were not really sure it was scientifically grounded or had basis backed up by research.

I have that feeling today.  Poised at flight, wanting to plumb the depths and horizons I was told not to step foot on because it was against tradition.

Let’s see where I land after this.

 

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Teaching

Teaching in a digital age

daria-nepriakhina_Map
Photo by Daria Nepriakhina  {https://unsplash.com/photos/pZA4eNKBz20}

Seventeen years ago when I first started teaching, I had to lug around heavy, hard-bound books filled with colored pictures of pre-Hispanic Philippine society just so my students in my Philippine history classes could imagine how our ancestors, our economy, and our everyday life looked like. It was cumbersome, inconvenient and quite heavy to be carrying books up and down the Talamban campus of USC.

This semester, I have the privilege to teach Philippine history and the Rizal course again and after two weeks have passed since the semester started I still cannot shake off that feeling of awe that I still get when I am faced with the vast number of resources in front of me.  At a click of the mouse, I can now download a PDF copy of the original Boxer Codex in script form and a translation from a digital book website which I often use for my Masters’ class reading requirements. 

Gone are the days when one would have to go to the library, spending hours in the archive culling for primary sources like news articles, diary entries and historical maps to show in class.  In a second, we can find them through OpenLibrary, JSTOR, Internet Archive, Project Gutenberg or even from the digital archive of The New York Times to name a few websites.

I still can’t get over it.  Sources — especially the eyewitness accounts aka primary — are among the important lifeblood resources of historians and history students like me.

In a span of eight months, I have downloaded over two to three hundred electronic books and journal articles from three websites that have been very helpful to my life as a graduate student and as a researcher.

If you need the addresses of these websites, shoot me an email at teacheryen.wp@gmail.com.

Given the number of websites available today, there is definitely no reason why a teacher in this time and age can’t come up with a visual presentation or lesson.

Everything is on the web.

What do we teach our students then when information is already at their fingertips?

And that is when the role of a teacher as a guide comes in.  In an age where information is a dime a dozen and easy to download, it is important that we teach students to sift and swim ably through the pieces of information floating around like chunks from an iceberg.

Teachers need to teach their classes how to verify facts, separate the grain from the chaff especially in an era where fake news abounds.

We must teach them to be critical and to know what information to look for, where to find them, how to distinguish truth from lies or half-truths and come up with a logical argument out from their research and analysis of facts and evidence.

That said, the ubiquity of the internet does not diminish the importance of teachers rather, it highlights the teacher’s role.

It is crucial today that we teach skills like critical thinking, making judgments and conclusions, verifying information and producing new knowledge.  Young people must be taught to analyze and synthesize knowledge instead of merely spewing and mouthing what they have read from a website.

One important thing that ties all these skills together is for us to teach students how to apply the facts and knowledge they get from the web, from the people around them and from school.

They must be taught how to use this information to continually develop society and create technology that improves other people’s lives without compromising truth and social justice.

That, my friends, is where our greater challenge as teachers lie.

Teaching

200-item (test questions) Social Studies major

Hi!  For those who will be taking the LET this September 24, 2017, GOD BLESS YOU!

22 days more to go!  I am uploading a 200-item practice test* that you can take just to test what you know.  It’s for Social Studies majors and they are in Word and PDF versions.  I have yet to upload sample tests for Gen. Ed. Social Studies.

To everyone who’s prepping for it, God bless you with much grace, peace and wisdom!  🙂

*Important note:  These questions are not mine.  I compiled them from different reviewers (both published/printed and the ones from my review last year).

FINAL_MOCK EXAM_SOCIAL STUDIES MAJOR

FINAL_MOCK EXAM_SOCIAL STUDIES MAJOR

Teaching

Tapestry of stories

How does one weave a tapestry of colors to come up with a beautiful piece of art?  That question keeps running through my mind as I examine and analyze the data that I have on student activism in Cebu in the 1970s.  It is no longer as black and white as I assumed it would be when I first started doing my research.  Now I see the nuances and the gray areas as well.  It is like knowing a person better.  Once you get to listen to a person’s story, you get to understand him/her better as the whole picture becomes clearer.

I was never a student activist in my college years in spite of the fact that I studied at the supposedly “bastion of academic freedom” and activism.  I always found the explanations of the activists lacking and because of that I never joined their ranks.  Their all-out “no” to anything the government did or said turned me off.  I asked one of them, “why can’t you acknowledge the positive or good things the government has done instead of being focused on all the wrong things?”

I am not blind.  I know our government’s flaws.  I am well aware of our leaders’ flaws but I am also aware of their strengths and accomplishments.  That is why I admired what one of my interviewees told me this afternoon.  He was a student activist during the Marcos years.  He said, “I’ve never been for Duterte but I acknowledge that I liked what he said about the mining industry and I acknowledge the other accomplishments he has done in other sectors.  It is important to look at things objectively.”  I liked how he said that.

I think one can serve this nation without being allied to a student activist organization.  Activism is not one organization’s monopoly.  In the same way, one can also be a critical thinker without being critical of everything the government does.  I do not agree with protesting for protest’s sake.  I also subscribe to the idea that if we are quick to judge what is broken or negative then we must also be equally quick to acknowledge what is good and positive.

So going back to my question about all these stories…I told my interviewee that, at times, I am stumped about how to write their stories altogether as some of them want to keep their anonymity and “exploits” unwritten.  Well, there is always a way.  I just have to find it fast. 

Life, Teaching

Full circle

TC 1
This view always reminds me of Diliman. 🙂

During a “messy” time in my life and career, my former boss, sir Pascual, once told me, “Yen, take a break from teaching and History for a while.  Try other things and explore other places.  When you think History (and teaching) is really for you, go back to it.”

Fifteen years after he said those wise words — an advice that really helped me a lot — I’ve finally come full circle today, this semester, this school year.  I am no longer teaching in USC but I am back as a graduate student of History and finally with the wholehearted choice that History is for me after so many twists and turns, so many delays, lessons learned and mishaps.

I am back in one of sir P.’s classes again and the first day our class met, his lecture reminded me why I have always loved History.  I went home inspired after that first session.

In my mind, I was already expecting this weekend trip to Tangub to be “challenging” and “hard” given the fact that going to the place via Dipolog City was something I was not quite familiar with.  Somehow I  also knew (subconsciously), I would not be reporting but I had set my heart on coming here.  I wanted to see the place I once fell in love with the first time I set foot on it. A place that held so many precious memories for me. The thought of staying here even crossed my mind back then, well, only for a minute but the lack of coffee shops back then made me think twice. 😉 I chose to come in spite of the additional expense it would entail because I felt that it was something I had to see and feel:  coming full circle to a profession, a school and a department I left because of a broken heart.

When I had my first heartbreak fifteen years ago because of someone I met in the university where I first taught, I mistakenly “personalized” the experience and disassociated everything related to him as something to be shunned, forgotten and left off for good. I stayed away from USC for quite a number of years.  And in a sense, I threw away a lot of opportunities in my attempts to forget, move on and make peace with the past.  I heard that he is no longer with the university but even then if he still was it would still have been okay.  I guess forgiving one’s self and the other person makes it okay. 😉

TC 3This year, I knew it would be a different season.  The first time I entered USC TC to process my admission, I no longer felt the familiar twitch of pain that often accompanied every visit I had since 2002.  I walked up to the 4th floor of the AS building and snapped a photo of the cement road from the entrance gate to ISMED and breathed in the fresh air.  Sounds OA I know but I reveled in the fact that I could finally say I’ve moved on. 😊

I only remembered the happy memories I once had in Talamban.  Of times spent with students talking with them after classes, of friendships made with co-teachers at the faculty room and of walks I took in TC to the chapel to pray, walks with a “friend” after checking papers at the faculty room and just good old plain memories hanging out in the canteen overlooking the soccer field, of times spent in prayer sitting on the steps leading to the chapel.  That place was quiet and far away from the crowd back then.  It made for a perfect place to pray and read the Bible.

TC 2

It feels good to be back, feeling lighter, a lot happier and no longer haunted by past mistakes.

It feels good to make peace with the past — finally.

As I look to the future with expectation (especially this August), I understand how important it is to study History not to be held back by the trauma and mistakes of the unchangeable past but to be enlightened and strengthened by it.  I think that is how Philippine history should be taught to students.  Not just merely a string of events but a book of lessons and stories, both good and the bad, that makes one a better person, a better nation.  The bad should not be covered up or revised but examined with a different set of glasses and a heart ready to learn from one’s mistakes and stand up again after a fall.

Thanks to this rainy, circuitous trip to Tangub, I have finally come full circle and said goodbye to the ghosts of my past.  The future looks bright and happy. 🙂

Teaching

Elusive sleep

I’m on a boat bound for somewhere in Mindanao and sleep eludes me.  Now it is quiet.  The time on my phone tells me it is  5:00 in the morning.  I gave up trying to sleep twenty minutes ago.

Four hours earlier, different sounds surrounded me.  From phone rings to the usual snoring to babies crying when their sleep is interrupted.  I had covered my face with a handkerchief to shield it from the light above me.  It didn’t work (apparently) or i would have been asleep by now.  

As I lay on my bed, I turned from one side to the other every ten to fifteen minutes.  The heat was terrible and I was sweating profusely in the back.  I thought of my bed at home and the electric fan and the more I could not sleep.  I yearned for something that wasn’t there. 

And it made me think how our lives can be like that at times.

We seem to get into a quandary or get stuck in an unfavorable situation because we are looking for something elusive.  We want something and if that thing escapes us, we think life is uncomfortable, hard.  We base our comfort and maybe even happiness on that one little thing. 

If this post is rambling that’s because it is.  My mind is sleepy at this time but I can’t sleep. 

History, Teaching

Teach. Research. Community work.

Seventeen years after graduation and letting go of my fears and apprehensions, I am now able to articulate 3 areas where I want to focus on professionally:  teach (part-time), do research and write a book and write articles and do community work.

It has taken me that long to let go of my fears and sort out what I really want.

When I was much younger, it was the steady income and money that was uppermost in my mind.  I wanted a stable job never mind if the teaching requirements took up most of my time from doing research.  After an experience teaching 2nd graders in a public school and teaching 7th and 11th graders in a private school, I finally put my hands up in surrender and mustered enough courage to pursue what I want and what I enjoy doing and that is to teach a subject or two, read, read and read books and articles and write and have time for my blogs and other creative ideas.

As my dad again reminded me this morning during breakfast, “Tsi, don’t think about the money.  Work on what you’re passionate about first and then the money will come later.  Sow first by doing unpaid work first and then the income will follow.”

I guess I now have the strength and self-awareness to admit to myself that I am not cut out for an all-out teaching career.  The kind of teaching career that makes one stay all day in the school churning out lesson plans, grading papers and working on all the paper trail.  It makes my brains go out, makes me restless and bored.  I want to work outside the box (literally and figuratively).

I would rather go to school for my classes only, mentor a few students for their papers, work at the university library for research work and publish a book and some articles.  At the same time, I would want to work on a community project that combines some of the things I am passionate about which are:  community development and history.

It was scary at first contemplating about this move but it has been two months now since I left the school where I once taught and so far this has been the most restful, “busy but not stressful” and enjoyable time of my career.  It is a bit challenging though not to have a fixed schedule as you have to be mindful of keeping time blocks to make sure that you work on the research projects you are involved in.  I have found that these days while I do not have a fixed schedule and a time in, time out schedule, I am more punctual without absences at this time.

Hopefully, I get to work on my planned Instagram and blog for Cebuano History and Culture.  That’s always been my dream:  to someday work on something that will make the ordinary Juan de la Cruz and the Bisayang Dako (like me) passionate, more aware and more knowledgeable about our local history.

 

*Photo mine – Taken at the Museo Parian sa Sugbo 1730 Jesuit House*

 

Teaching

HANDOUTS (PDF and Word versions)

Dear LET Reviewees,

I am in the process of converting my PowerPoint files to Word versions.  Here is the first file I have converted.  It is a combination of the following files:  Society and Culture, 2Q1_Socialization, Maslow and Alderfer’s theories, Social Inequality and Cultural Assimilation & Diffusion.  Thank you!

*Other files to follow 🙂

I. SOCIETY AND CULTURE 

PDF1_HANDOUT_Society & Culture_Jun 17

Word version:  HANDOUT_Society & Culture_Jun 17

II. ECONOMICS:

PDF version:  PDF2_HANDOUT_Economics

Word version: HANDOUT_Economics

III. CONSTITUTION:

PDF version – PDF3_HANDOUT_Constitution

Word: HANDOUT_Constitution

Teaching

Updated Social Studies (Gen. Ed.) files

Dear LET reviewees,

Here are some updated Gen. Ed. Social Studies files from yesterday’s lecture.  Feel free to download them.  God bless you and I’ll be praying for you as you study and prepare for the LET.  🙂 Phil Constitution articles1 Phil Constitution_final

2 State and Government

3 Rizal’s world

4 Society and Culture

5 PHIL HISTORY

6 Phil History _ Part 2

7 2Q.1_Socialization

8 Agrarian Reform & Taxation

9 CULTURE_Assimilation Diffusion

10 Economics

11 Maslow and Alderfer theories

Addendum:  12 Social Inequality:  Social Inequality

 

==========================

PDF VERSIONS

PDF_2Q.1_Socialization

PDF_Agrarian Reform & Taxation

PDF_CULTURE_Assimilation Diffusion

PDF_Economics

PDF_Maslow and Alderfer theories

PDF_Phil Constitution_final

PDF_Phil History _ Part 2

PDF_PHIL HISTORY

PDF_Society and Culture

PDF_State and Government

PDF_Rizal’s world

PDF_Social Inequality

Teaching

Maki-Uson din ako

I don’t know where to start. All I know is that my Facebook news feed is flooded with posts against the appointment of the blogger Mocha Uson to a government post.

What has become of us? But then again, is this a manifestation of postmodernism in our society today wherein the grand narrative of needing Civil Service eligibility, proper and extensive training in writing and communications can be done away with because the powers-that-be have written off the usual qualifications for this one?

Does this mean that I have to study the provisions for political appointees in the first place and stand corrected if, technically, the President is indeed entitled to appointing whoever he wishes to. Key words are “entitled” and “wish to”.

If that is the case then, I go to the issue of morality and propriety. Is is proper and fitting for a Mocha Uson to be appointed to a government for the simple reason that she is rabidly loyal and very pro-Duterte in her writings and stance? As the president pointed out, he appointed her out of “utang na loob” which, to me, is actually a detrimental Filipino cultural trait. In the name of “utang na loob” hundreds (if not thousands) of unqualified candidates have been given government posts or jobs because of it. The one who appoints owes them something — a debt of gratitude that cannot be paid in cash and must be paid only through a favor.

This and other questions run through my mind. Is this my UP arrogance (as some would contend) speaking when I call her out as unfit for the role of an Assistant Secretary simply because she does not look, talk, write or think like it? I still think that government leaders must have a modicum of propriety and proper training when appointed to office. But then again, if you look at many of our politicians today that seems to be a rare thing in politics these days.

TV shows would pale in comparison to Philippine politics today. Our politics and the politicians resemble that of a circus, a comedy of errors (to borrow from Shakespeare’s title) and a wrestling match. It’s both a sad and an amusing reality and way of life. But hey this is the Philippines where anything goes and nothing is impossible.

Just look at Mocha Uson and her being an Assistant Secretary.