Teaching is hard work (Ang magturo ay ‘di biro)

I WAS RAISED in a household that put a premium on learning and education. My siblings and I were not given free rein when it came to toy stores.  But come a visit to the bookstore, and my parents willingly got us whatever book we desired. That kind of support definitely allowed our minds to wander, play and eventually grow sharper and wiser.

Education was emphasized so much because my parents had achieved great success in life because of it.  My father — the late Senate President Edgardo J. Angara — was primarily a scholar all his life, blessed with such academic acumen that he never paid a single centavo for tuition.  As an upstart lawyer, he spent some time teaching business law at the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Business Administration. Eventually, he became President of UP.

And where my father championed education’s many causes as a legislator, it was my mother — former CCP chairperson Gloria Manalang Angara — who devoted more than two decades of her life to being an educator.  She was a teacher at the International School (IS) when she and my father first met, many decades ago.

I myself tried my hand in teaching, working as a lecturer at the College of Law of New Era University and at the School of Law and Jurisprudence of Centro Escolar University. It was but a quick dip — as opposed to a long immersion — into the world of teaching, as I only did it for a year.  But during this short stint, I earned a newfound respect for those who have devoted themselves to this vocation.

I learned that an hour-long lecture — assuming it was engaging and enriching for the students — required at least two to three hours’ worth of preparation. In fact, it was similar to being a student again, having to dive back into the law books. The work was fulfilling but nevertheless tiring because I felt all of one’s faculties and energy needed to be engaged for one to do well as a teacher.  One really needs to give much of themselves so that others can learn.

My short experience with teaching has only helped me understand how and why many of our teachers today lament that they are overworked, especially in the face of inadequate facilities, lack of support staff, and overcrowded classrooms. If so much labor and effort goes into preparing for a single lecture, much more is definitely needed if one is handling two, three — or worse, eight — different classes a day.

Calls are now being made for a review of the Department of Education’s requirements under their results-based performance management system (RPMS). Apparently, teachers today are asked fill out so much paper work that many spend more time doing “clerical work” than in actual teaching.

Such issue definitely needs to be investigated, especially since many studies have shown that the caliber of teachers is the single-most important factor to improving and maintaining the quality of the education offered by a government to its people.

Ambeth Ocampo, noted historian, columnist and 2006 Metrobank Outstanding Teacher Awardee once said: “Making sure lessons are learned makes a teacher.  Attaining personal or professional success and happiness makes a good teacher. But, it is only by passing all these good things to another — leaving a legacy — that makes an outstanding teacher.”

If we continue to exhaust our teachers, while paying them a pittance, what kind of legacy would they passing on to their students?  Wouldn’t we be jeopardizing the future of our nation if we allow such a situation to persist?

Perhaps, in the same vein that I grew up in a household that valued education and learning, we should build up our society so that we give our teachers all the support they need so that their minds can continuously grow sharper and wiser. In such a society, world teachers’ day — which we celebrated last week, October 5—would definitely become a year-round celebration.

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Senator Sonny Angara was elected in 2013, and now chairs the Senate committees on local government, and ways and means. (Email: [email protected]| Facebook, Twitter & Instagram: @sonnyangara)/PN

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