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.