Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Earlier this evening,while waiting for P to pick me up from school,I suddenly told myself: I could die now.

I am exhausted. We had to adjust the whole department's schedule because of an absent Music teacher; just one teacher missing and the whole school went gaga. And so I taught practically the whole day with only a 50 minute break and a late Jollibee lunch at 3pm. But as I sat under the duhat tree when everyone has gone home,with my feet aching like hell, my back sore and burning,I looked up at the sky and had that moment of utter contentment.

If I'd have to go right there and then, I said, I wouldn't resist. I thought of P and told myself, he'd understand; he knows I love him so much and knowing that he knows is comforting. I've known these kids for two years, so I guess that's good--at least, I've already become a part of their lives. My family will be fine, I said. Because of these, there's no reason why I should fear death, right? I know I've done my best to live freely, trying my might to love and be loved. So as easily as saying yes to freshly brewed coffee, I said, "yes, I could die now."

Who knows?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Iskul Bukol

I’m supposed to be doing tons of things for school now and besides that, I should be preparing dinner since P’s arriving from work any moment. But as usual, the urge to do something other than what you must do is stronger.

Today’s the first day back to school. It started out fine with my eighth graders generally receptive to my introduction of, drum rolls please, the Sun. I had three straight classes from 8 til 12 noon and it was exhausting. My ninth graders had a poetry exercise to start the year and our A Separate Peace unit. I gave them one of those formulaic creative writing, which I wouldn’t normally give but works great when kids just need to let their thoughts out freely and without care for the more disciplined poetic standards. Here’s one of the more striking ones:

“I seem to be a Great tree
in the rainforests of Africa
but I am just a leaf on the ground
waiting to be stomped on…

I seem to be like a Wolf,
Proud and wild
But merely I am a dog, tamed
And leashed…

I seem to be the cub,
carefree and playful
But in spirit I am the lion,
Taking care of the pride…”

- K, grade 9

One of my eleventh graders submitted his paper on Gandhi, which was actually a consequence for violating a school rule. But more than a consequence, it was also supposed to be an act of atonement. This boy is one of my most intelligent, stubborn and opinionated students. He doesn’t mince his words, is a self-declared capitalist who vows to be filthy rich (even richer than his family is now) in ten years and do this at all costs. He sees a Darwinian world where one survives “by thinking and acting only when it benefits you”. He likens compassion to a condom—you whip it out only when you need it. Some colleagues were bothered. I am, too, of course. But then I realize that this ignorance as I’d like to call it is the reason why teachers really do have an important task in the education of adolescents. I’ve had this boy for two years now and when I first heard his ideas similar to this one, I was appalled and bothered for days. I pointed fingers at so many things: the way he was raised, the wealth of his family, TV and so many other things that I thought had to do with why he thinks the way he does. I wanted to blame people, former teachers, parents… I was even close to resigning to the idea that this kid will turn out to be a really despicable person in the future especially since he is far from being nice at present. In fact, he’s a real challenge—to his teachers and classmates and to his parents. I practically have conferences with his parents every month!

He’s just sixteen and clearly intelligent. And yes, he can do so many great and terrible things when he grows up. It’s scary isn’t it? I mean, we teachers have reasons to be bothered but we also have to face him and always bring his ideas back to him.

I look at him differently now. I see a boy, an adolescent who’s actually asking “why is the world this way?” When he says this is a dog-eat-dog world, I hear a voice saying “this is life, isn’t it? Why?” I actually sense fear and apprehension and I want to tell him “it’s alright, you can do something about this.” WE will do something about this. Now, it’s even scarier.

In a way, I can’t help but think that it is OUR fault that this kid is starting to believe ideas like this. It is OUR fault that he is growing up in a world like ours. Soon I will ask him about hope. I know that deep inside, he has this.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Five days into the new year and well, I'm in my self-made limbo. I am not yet ready to go back to school because a) I'm not yet done with my holiday break to-do list; b) there is yet another batch of to-dos waiting for me and c) I don't want to do all my to-dos. It's unbelievable how I've left all these things undone and now I'm wondering where my vacation went...

To think my PhilStar K.O. article this Saturday is about getting back into the groove of school--the article is another story, by the way, as I believe it deserves the trash can. Shame on me. What am I doing, still deluding myself that I can write? But I digress.

I need to focus. Three months to go before the school year ends! I'm also down to my most dreaded part of my curriculum: teaching research writing. I. don't. know. how. to. teach. research. Here are my excuses: I'm not an education major, hence, no how-to-teach-research classes in college. I had great English teachers in high school, but I suppose they weren't educ majors, too, judging by the way they taught research. I majored in Literature and so the research process, though not at all unfamiliar to me, was a skill I just acquired and not as systematic as it's supposed to be. I'm just not so confident teaching it :( So my plan is, I'd do it with them instead of rattling off the steps as what the textbooks do. Modelling the process is ideal in the classroom anyway. So wish me luck.

I'll also be teaching Parzival for my last block. It's the crux of the eleventh grade curriculum and it will be my first time to teach it. Again, wish me luck.


The only thing I want to do these days is sit in front of the TV and watch replays of America's New Top Model, Sex and the City on dvd, and One Tree Hill whenever I catch it on ETC. I'm obviously braindead and it's been going on for days, months! Speaking of SATC, I realized that I have most of Carrie Bradshaw's men, at least the most significant of them, in P: Aidan,Petrovsky,Berger and Big. This deserves a separate blog entry.


And so, happy new year to us. Live, love, laugh, dream. Happy new year!