North Star

I have always been inspired and enriched by insights I gather from ASCD. Today, I am privileged to be enlightened about “The Whole Child for the Whole World” through Sean Slade. These are my grateful thoughts for Day 1 of the Annual Educators’ Congress where I have been invited by Rex Bookstore to be empowered by for the success of the Filipino whole child in the 21st century.

Back when I was 25, I believe I have had to face numerous crossroads requiring me to make up my mind, to doubt my future even, and to take risks. I have had to endure struggles in making, keeping and terminating social and personal relationships. At 34, being an educator for 13 years, I have found the need to reflect how I have been prepared in school to have been able to straighten the crossroads and to leap above the struggles that I faced in the real world after I have finally left school. 

Clearly, there had been no traces of Geometry, Chemistry, Physical Education, Literature, and the rest of my basic education and tertiary curriculum, when I had to battle for survival in the big world. However, this does not mean Algebraic expressions and balancing equations have not contributed to the person I have become right now. Although the subjects may not have mattered a huge deal for direct reference in problem solving and decision making, still the educational experience in itself that I have been trained, taught and molded by all the subjects in school had challenged me fair enough to have been able to think freely, independently and critically, to see realities creatively, emphatically and passionately, and to deal with generalities not with indifference but with kindness, responsiveness and eagerness.

Fast forward to my present classroom, I see the future more clearly now as to where I would want young people to be. 

The classroom of the future has become the classroom now, and the classroom of the future at the moment shall soon be the classroom of now in the future. However, the timeline and transition are not the main concern why we envisage young people to fit the mold of a whole child who is “healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged.” What is clear to me is, what I do now in the path that I shape for the young people shall open routes for an educational journey that is wholesome and enjoyable. If every child sees learning more as a happy pill for living life to the fullest and not a meter stick of excellence, I believe this shall change the world up.

Students derive their motivation to stay in school and keep their focus in learning from different sources. Most often than not, they feel exhausted, misguided, confused and clueless about the whole idea of having to memorize terminologies, solve complex equations, write essays and research reports, while they film videos, conduct interviews, play sports, perform on stage, speak to an audience and create models. This is because aside from the workload in school, they also have to confront issues about  physical and emotional well-being, social and personal acceptance, self-esteem and potentials, and time management. The sad thing is, educators feel the same but most students do not want to see that the feeling is mutual. They blame the educational system that they do not have power to change, when it is in establishing collaboration with their teachers and school (and it is not a matter of where the connection shall be initiated at all) that can serve as shortcut to skip setbacks of learning. 

Still, this sad reality is an opportunity to be challenged as to what every classroom teacher can do to be free from these worries. The beginning of liberation is to shift the scale that gives weight on academic achievement to student engagement. Taking on this challenge is not possible with the desire of the teacher alone nor the cry of the students for learning to be fun. Commitment has always been a huge shoe to fill as far as educational goals are considered, so what is it going to be now?

I have been searching for answers from the universe why I teach, why I started teaching and what I am preparing young people for or to be. 

Today, I think I have found my North Star.

Advertisements

Like Meth

There is none like you, Meth. You are uncategorized and untagged but unbelievably special and of worth. 

Like the Meth that whitens dark areas and like the Meth that stimulates the senses, you have been both an antioxidant and stimulant for you have made grey skies clear and have induced positivity to mundanities. But you are the Meth that is not synthetic at all. You are raw, pure and true. You are Meth.

Thank you for reintroducing me to sincerity, selflessness, thoughtfulness, honesty and loyalty, even if knowing each other may be too short to judge if all of these classic values that I have experienced with you would last a lifetime. Well, why would we need a lifetime if we get to hold on to moments one at a time, right?

Do know that the little things you do for and share with others, although sometimes taken for granted, ignored and judged, have and will always earn their way to etch a bit of purpose when there used to be none at all, on moments that eventually matter. 

I am glad that I have met someone like you, Meth. 

May you live each day with that spark of hope, that glow of joy, that touch of words, that beat of music, and that passion for living, which you consciously or unconsciously scatter like magic dust to people who cherish you. People like me.

Hey you, Happy birthday. 😘

Wired

I don’t have to read the books to fully understand. There will always be countless whys. I do not need to get everything figured out either. There will always be pieces that won’t ever fit. No matter how I try to hold the facts together, I always reach the point of asking “how come?” I never have had the audacity to question or condemn. Even if it is neither hate nor reproach that I feel, but pain and remorse for not being able to do something, anything—I am more comfortable silently sorting my thoughts rather than thinking out loud. I cannot even keep pace with the subtlety that I wish to achieve. In the end, I think I know the answers but still I ask, “why?” 

Verbosity

Too wordy. 

I get that remark all the time. What if I would be given the chance to appear unedited, like my written thoughts were a director’s cut of a film? How I wish I would truly have that chance and still not be judged for my syntactic struggles.

Whenever the tip of my pen is about to code overlapping dependence, or attempts to build excessive modification, I know my musings are about to turn into nightmares. Still, like drug to my diction, I allow the manuscript to be heavy on words, because suppressing the “breathings of my soul” might just suffocate me or leave me dry. 

Sometimes, fragments are the riddles I’ve been looking for to stitch together the broken pieces of the entire truth. I find pleasure in using numerous fragments to trigger nerve impulse by every torn tale, ripped reality and fractionated feeling. I know there is a more grammatically acceptable structure than my disintegrated dogma, but sentence fragments are the literary bricks that complete my thoughts. Without them, I might break apart. Literally.

Consider revising.


This is the expert advice I often get, and rarely consider. I have tried resolving this internal conflict I have with the writer who writes and the writer who’s right, trapped inside me. I am not done trying yet though. I still have debate skirmishes inside my head if I wish to be a writer or right-er because trying to be both seems to be an endless struggle. 

And I just want to write. Does it have to be that hard?

Palilalia

Words are all I have, which is why I sometimes do not have enough of them to express substantially my point, so I end up saying “actually” or “technically” over and over. In the same way, at times,  I only have  a word or two to deliver my exact point, like “exactly” or “precisely.” These verbal tics, annoying as they seem, turn out to be the excellent choices for conversation starters and terminators after all. 

What would I ever do without them? 

We have all been in boring and not so boring classes in high school, and the only thing that has kept us entertained is drawing sticks on our notes to tally a word that our teacher would say over and over again. As we grow older, we realize that some old habits die hard, and we continue to build fences on memo pads whenever we are trying to make it out alive of a staff meeting or conference, because the one presiding seems to end each statement with the same word. 

Sometimes, we wonder, there are over a hundred thousand words in the dictionary, but why do people have to keep on repeating but one?

What is more interesting is, to some people this tic manifestation is categorized as a disorder. While parents of children with autism worry over their children’s pathological speech behavior, here I am, merely making a complex deal out of my self-diagnosed palilalia, as my own form of withdrawal from being annoyed with myself, because denial and anxiety get the best of me whenever my mind stalls for a better way to enunciate my thoughts. While it is a disurbing language disorder to some teens and adults, we belong to that portion of the class perhaps who take this disordered speech patterns of our teachers or colleagues as a thing to make fun of. 

Why is that?

Amidst burning issues and challenging situations, we do run out of better words to say and take diction for granted, to a point that we trigger the red light for language check. Still we scald our tongue with words like “crap” and “damn” (I have to filter the real words for these two) over and over again, meant or half-meant. I guess this is the same feeling when we say “okay” or “alright” though we never mean them, because these are all we can comfortably say to avoid having to explain ourselves or telling the truth about our feelings. This is the same as well when we say “I was like” or “you know” when there isn’t really something like it or no one really knows, but we say it repeatedly anyway because we “literally” have nothing else to say. 

Are we better off running out of words to say then? If I do, what do I say?

Non-linear Thoughts

I am starting to believe my brain is a briefcase of graphic organizers.

How I wish I could sort my thoughts in compartments and mentally label them, each time I have to challenge my own reasons behind decisions that I make by every turn of the clock.

 How I wish I could trace back the dots I connect in my mind in a trail of wise guesses and second guesses just the same, each time I demand from myself the validation of my own principles. 

How I wish I could cross over timelines in my brain and relearn or unlearn the tricks and trades of banal existence, each time I look for better options than the ones that I thought were already the best.

How I wish I knew how to declutter my brain, because I am beginning to feel that this mind map I carry with me is not only divine but also deadly. 

Depresso

Coffee never asks questions. Coffee understands.

There comes a point in your life when silence turns out to be your dearest friend, and coffee keeps you both satisfied, although it can never pour fillings through the holes in your heart.

My love affair with coffee is more than just a fad or fling. Coffee has saved me from a lot of raw truths I could have said in the wrong way. In numerous instances, coffee has kept me from making a big deal out of harsh realities that were better pondered on and left unsaid. If I were just drinking coffee for the heck of it, I would not act like my life were dependent on it, because it truly is. It is not an act. I am truly living with a strong reliance on coffee to fuel me, to sustain me, to resuscitate me, to restore me.

Coffee is both lifeblood and lifeline. 

I am trying to be hopeful that this dependency is not a bad thing, because sometimes, (or most often than not) I credit to caffeine the tiniest drop of confidence I have to face daily mundanities. Living a life measured by coffee spoons is reality for me, even if there may be shades of meaning along with it. I have had my fair share of misfortunes but most of these frustrations have been caffeine-fixed.

Still, though a potent stimulant, there are a lot of actualities that coffee can never change, heal or subdue, whichever is necessary. Coffee can only help get past murkiness and sharpen the edges. To me, this is more than enough consolation. 

Give me coffee or give me death. I rest my case.