I was not the “typical” teacher my more senior co-teachers expected me to be. Needless to say, teaching has not always been a bed of roses for me. And I have been described on various occasions as idealistic, dreamy and naïve. Even my dearest (and more tolerant) friends find it difficult to understand, much less accept, my teaching style. Despite opposition, however, I persisted in pursuing what I believed to be right for the sake of my students.
More than a decade ago, I advocated the use of an atypical teaching strategy that raised quite a few eyebrows. Now, I hear that most universities are adopting the same approach.
I feel vindicated.
Almost twenty years ago, I was given teaching units in a subject called “Women in Society.” It was similar to a Values Education subject in college. Knowing that discussing the module inside the classroom would not develop a full awareness of what is actually happening in our society, I asked for permission from my superiors if I may conduct the class in an orphanage for malnourished children. There I asked my students to feed, play and take care of the children for at least two hours a week. They listened as emaciated children aged 4-10 tell their stories. Some were abandoned, some endure terrible suffering from diseases like lupus and hernia and some were victims of rape and violence. Afterwards, I supplemented the activity with an open forum in school where students could share their insights.
Everybody was just so excited every Values Ed class. Everyone was willing to share whatever they can give to the children. All the children and my students enjoyed what they called their playtime.
Immersion may be a good eye-opener. As I watched my students cuddle the gaunt, skin and bones children as they feed the young who could hardly get up from bed or open their mouths. I hoped that all of my students develop an awareness of the sufferings of others. I wished that in my own little way as a teacher, I made my students see the consequences of immorality within the home and to learn to abhor it. I hoped that they developed a real concern for others and that they will carry this until they grow old.
After leaving the academe in order to take care of my family full-time, I made sure that my ideals are not wasted. Now, I have four students – myself, my husband and my two kids. When circumstances permit, we try to visit orphanages and mingle with the orphans. This has taught our family a valuable learning experience that we will carry until we grow old.