"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Monday, October 6, 2014

Why Voices of Teachers Need to Be Heard

Our children spend a large fraction of their waking hours inside a classroom when they are in school. Our children therefore spend a lot of their time with their teacher. In fact, not counting the weekends, a child probably spends more time with a teacher than with a parent. Teachers are obviously the second parents of our children. With this in mind, it becomes clear why teachers' voices must be heard. In the Philippines, some teachers are clamoring for a salary increase as well as suspension of the new DepEd's K+12 curriculum:

Above picture copied from the Alliance of Concerned Teachers' Facebook page
Anne Marxze D. Umil makes it easy to perceive why we should equate teachers' voices to the voices of our own children through the following paragraphs in the article, "They simply could not let their students drop out due to poverty" :
They are not only teachers, they are also second parents to their students. It’s a duty that many public school teachers fulfill and take to heart. Despite their low and insufficient salary, many teachers manage to help their poor students so that they could continue with their studies.

Like Anne Besin, a 25-year-old teacher who may be single but already has many children.

Besin is a “mother” to a number of students in Antonio J. Villegas Vocational High School, located near Vitas and Baseco compound in Tondo, Manila where the Smokey Mountain dumpsite used to stand. In this area, people make a living gathering recyclable trash...

...Despite having no salary increase for years already, teachers could not bear seeing their students suffer, so they do what they can to help. Besin brings additional rice or viand to share with her students. 
“When I see them in the corridors, I ask if they have already eaten. I share with them the food that I have so that they don’t have to skip school,” Besin said.
Teachers' voices are our children's voices. And if we ignore or silence them, we are in fact ignoring and silencing our very own children:

Above picture copied from GMA News
Peter DeWitt, a former elementary public school principal in the US wrote recently on Education Week an article entitled, "5 Reasons Leaders Need to Encourage Teacher Voice". The five reasons are:

  • Teacher Expertise: The teachers are the ones manning the frontline of education. The teachers are the ones who know our children.
  • Democratic Process: A central element in education is participation and responsibility. The voices of children and their parents need to be heard, and these voices are usually channeled through teachers.
  • Positive School Climate: Another key element in learning is engagement. When needs and concerns are ignored, a negative atmosphere inside a school is created.
  • Maximizing Initiative: Teachers are more likely to be effective if they become not just followers but leaders in innovation and reform.
  • Students' Voice: If teachers' voices are not heard then students likewise have no voice.
The last reason above is in fact more than enough. When we dismiss what teachers are saying, we are in fact dismissing our own children....


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