Elementary and high school teachers, confined in their classrooms, grow old over time while the age of the students placed under their wings remains the same. A Grade 6 teacher, for example, welcomes classes with 12-year-old boys and girls every year, with each batch’s personality becoming more and more challenging, if not complex, to deal with than the previous years. This is a manifestation of the increasing gap between the X Generation and the Generation X.
I reflected on this scenario and wrote my thoughts about parenting the child and childing the parent as part of the art of bridging this gap. My thoughts were published in the second chapter of my book, XPRNZ. While I specifically tackled the role and responsibilities of the parents themselves, as far as their own children are concerned, I have wondered about how much of a parent a teacher should be. This thinking resulted from the long-accepted fact that schools are extended homes of the children where they spend at least seven hours a day.
To me, teachers are secondary parents. They have the responsibility to embrace and guide the children to become better and greater versions than they were yesterday. Still, day in, day out, these teachers are challenged to be doubly patient, understanding and loving as their students are influenced by forces beyond their control. I can just imagine how difficult it is for both students and teachers to adapt to each other—students to the oftentimes inflexible textbook classroom teaching styles and teachers to the way the thinking and behaviour of the students are largely influenced by the technological babies of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.
Because of the extended parenting role and responsibility of teachers, I find it sad and alarming to hear news of teachers scaring their students into learning by throwing big blocks of board erasers or several pieces of chalk or spanking them or even hitting their heads with a book. This is where I would like to emphasize that obedience out of fear overshadows respect, and suppression of feelings sometimes becomes an alternative that children take rather than self-expression. Instead of helping the students grow, teachers with frightening methods are pushing the young ones into becoming persons with low confidence and self-esteem.
Loving and responsible teachers can turn things around for the better. How? By changing their styles and using methods that children will appreciate and enjoy. These include Thoughts of Love, Words of Wisdom, Eyes of Trust, Ears of Tolerance, Hands of Gentleness, Elbows of Jest and Lightness, Finger of Discipline, Legs of Patience, Feet of Empathy, Belt of Protection, Stick of Flexibility, and Broom of Humility.
Every October 5 in the Philippines is National Teachers’ Day. If you are a teacher reading this, I hope my words of advice will renew your passion in your profession. If you are a student reading this, take the time to thank your teachers for their hard work, compassion, patience, and understanding. Don’t wait for October 5 to do so. // June Luna