A reaction presented by Fr. Mauricio T. Ulep, CMF on 23 September 2021 during the PEAC Webinar entitled “Teachers as Advocates” in celebration of the National Teachers Month.
Considering the importance of the teaching and learning process and the impact of education in social transformation and nation-building, we look at teachers as advocates. Impelled with the mission to teach and the passion to lead and accompany the students towards learning, and as a Claretian, I would say—to accompany the students in learning with virtue—teachers must support the foundations of a transformed society where truth, justice and goodness are clearly promoted at all times.
Formation and Integration
The mission of advocacy in the life of a teacher starts with being well- formed according to the values of God. As a teacher, he/she has to be clear with the values that he/she believes in, grow in the higher order of values, and embrace these values as pillars of his/her life. These values which spring from the eternal or universal values—faith in God, care for creation, and respect to humanity—should be clearly embedded in the teacher’s life. Clear values based on the universal truths shall define the why’s of what he/she does. In his/her life of integrity, he/she must live out as he/she believes according to these fundamental truths of life. Value-formation and integration are indispensable to make a teacher stand with firmness and courage so that he/she shall never be marred in a society tempted to live in deceit, distortion and error. If a teacher stands with honor and shows genuine faith in God, love of country, of fellowmen, and of creation, then he/she can motivate his/her students to do the same—and even with greater passion and dedication.
Essentially, values are nurtured more deeply and shared more authentically when witnessed in little acts of goodness inside and outside the classroom. What would it matter if a teacher talks about justice when he/she shows favoritism? What a teacher says, he or she does, so that one’s impact in the hearts of the students would not be only on lessons discussed but on lives lived out with sincerity and consistency. A teacher will definitely make a mark that lasts for a lifetime when he/she lives with integrity. The title “ma’am/sir” is not a title of status but a recognition of honor lived—a teacher must be worthy of that honor.
Di ko maintindihan kung bakit may naniniwala sa Panginoon na lumikha sa tao nang may dignidad pero tuwang tuwa sa isang lider na hindi nagpapahalaga sa Diyos at sa dignidad ng tao. Dapat may pagtutugma ang ating pagpapahalaga ayun sa “higher order of values”.
Knowledge and Intelligent Reflection
The teacher as an advocate also needs to be well-informed about the truth of events, occurrences and issues. A well-informed teacher, as he/she takes a serious and intelligent reflection, would know exactly how to make a critical presentation and offer understandable thoughts to others. Teaching is not a matter of parroting knowledge as transmitted but it is sharing the truth critically. Knowledge in its various forms, especially now with available media which are often distorted or erroneous, may have been handed over, and a teacher must have a good grasp of what is true based on research and readings which are legitimately and scholarly done. Being well-informed and doing careful analysis would also demand continuing education so that the knowledge which one keeps would be timely and relevant; and a teacher would not continue to hold on to the misinformation of the past. By being well- informed and having a critical reflection and understanding, one continues to engage in a teaching-learning process that is active and engaging so that one will be fully equipped “to counter miseducation and correct miseducation”.
Magbasa, mag-aral, maging mulat, maging mapanuri—ito yung kailangan nating gawin at hwag sana tayong tamad magbasa ng tama at totoo; wag lang tayong magbasa ng mga posts ng ating mga kaibigan.
Sharing and Collaboration
Awakening advocacy in the minds and hearts of the students would be a necessary task of a teacher-advocate. This happens when values are clearly and purposefully integrated in one’s lessons and connecting these with the realities of our times. Teaching Mathematics as a subject, for example, should lead students to learn the importance of accuracy in facts and details. If there is a spiral progression of learning, there should also be a progression of understanding the connection of one’s learning to improve the lives of the people and transform the evil and the error in society.
Furthermore, advocacy finds success when a teacher actively works with others. Shared mission strengthens the work of advocacy. The gigantic task of social transformation is made bearable when one builds a team and works with the team so that shared aspirations based on the higher order of values shall not die in one person but continue to blaze in the community.
Action and Commitment
One with others in a shared vision for the common good and for the glory of God, advocacy calls for more concrete actions at the level of shared leadership, programs, and systems. Hence, the direction towards community projects and pastoral programs shall have to be pursued at greater length with intensified commitment. Look at what can be done with Faculty Associations, Community Extension Services, community partnerships and others.
Kailangan talaga nating makialam, makibahagi, makiisa nang may tunay na malasakit habang patuloy ang ating pagninilay ayon sa ating pananampalataya. Wag sabihin—ah marami na akong hinaharap na problema, ayaw ko nang makialam!
In summary, on the basis of relationships—with oneself, with others, with our society, with the entire creation, and with God, teachers shall do advocacy mission by being formed and living with integrity according to values that are essential and universal especially based on faith; by being knowledgeable and reflective; by being collaborative; and by being committed to do more.
There is a lot of work to be done in advocacy. But let us not grow tired and never give up. Embrace the values, live according to the values, and teach the same values. Since advocacy is rooted in God—as Jesus proclaimed the Good News of God’s Kingdom, the work of God continues in us and through us. We share in God’s mission to teach as we advocate the values of God. The ministry we hold is a ministry for social transformation and nation-building.