Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Boy Who Could’ve Soared Higher

(sorry for not posting for too long... this post isn't about Dale, or myself, or my other kids, but i'm angry and i want to breathe. pardon the mistakes and all.)

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Every child and adolescent has a right to education… or so I thought.

Ever since I was a child, I dreamed of becoming a teacher. I envisioned myself honing a child, watching a child develop, being a second mother. This dream magnified when I watched The Boy Who Could Fly when I was a kid and saw a teacher who kept an autistic student from being sent into an asylum.

As I grew older, the realization that a teacher’s salary cannot possibly be enough for my family struck me, so, I took on a different course and eventually became a call center employee.

However, there was still this call to teach someday, and I decided to take up units in Education so I could take the Licensure Examinations for Teachers. I took it in 2004 and passed.

I haven’t taught in a classroom setting yet. The cost of living and feeding three children alone made me re-think my career choices, but I still have high respect for teachers. Until I read a text message from my sister-in-law:

“si vhon, ayaw ng tanggapin sa school nila, nakausap ko yung adviser.”

When I spoke with my sister-in-law, she explained that the soon-to-be adviser Ms. Cleofe Abad (Christ The Lord of Harvest, San Mateo), was the one who talked to her. She was also the former Biology teacher of my nephew who also took a summer class with her.

The reason was the child already committed too many school violations. I asked my sister how many of these violations exactly does she know of. She said she knew of one formal complaint and incident report, wherein my nephew hit (“binatukan”) another student. Other than that, there was no formal complaint.

I love my nephew. That is evident. But, I also do not condone hurting people or any bad behavior. But this side I have to explain. My nephew is different than other 15-year old adolescents. This was made clear to every adviser who has handled my nephew before the start of every class.

We have noticed this “behavior” when he started school. He is hard-headed, ill-tempered, always on the go, rarely focused, easily irritated. These result to fights, first and foremost with the family, and then with the school. He also had difficulty on focusing on his studies other than sports. His parents tried every discipline strategy. They tried talking to him, they tried being hard on him… nothing worked. There were moments when my nephew listens and does what he is told, but he chooses those moments, and nobody can foretell when.

I have a special child of my own, who I am proud to say have been accepted in a regular school after four years of SPED. I even took a few units of SPED from the University of the Philippines just so I could understand my child’s disorder. That was also the time when the idea that my nephew could’ve been a special child, too, came to mind. But since he was already in high school, we thought he was too old for a diagnosis.

We have accepted the fact that he might not complete tertiary education at all, and we are trying our best to have him complete at least secondary education, and then have him trained for a livelihood, like automotive or just having a carwash business that his parents could eventually let him manage when he is ready.

As a licensed teacher, I swore under oath to become the best teacher I could be with the student’s welfare on top of my priorities. Now, I ask myself, did this Biology teacher took the same oath? What were her priorities as an educator? I cannot understand how a teacher who has taken an oath before God and country can deny a student his right to education.

They also said that it was the teacher’s decision; they couldn’t do anything about it. This particular student have been in this school for two years now, and this particular teacher was the only one my nephew does not like because he feels like “pinagiinitan siya”.

One particular incident was that my nephew failed to wear his polo shirt to class (instead, an ordinary shirt), he said he was sorry and would not do it again. He also said there were other students who were not wearing their uniform. This teacher asked him to leave the room and go home. When asked why she did so, she said “to be an example to other students.”

I told myself, if this is the kind of teacher I could be, I will be a disgrace to the profession. Using a student to educate other students like this is far more than setting an example. Why didn’t she order all those who were not wearing their uniforms to go home? Why use my nephew? Or is it something else?

My nephew also told us that one time, he fell asleep in class. Instead of waking him up properly, this teacher threw a chalk at him. We understand the fact that my nephew is difficult to deal with. What we can’t understand is why this Biology teacher cannot deal with it, while other teachers can?

She said my nephew passed the summer class. My sister-in-law asked her what grade her son got. She said, “bibigyan ko siya ng 75.” I ask myself again, is giving out grades like plucking it from nowhere? Just so my nephew will not be enrolled to her class and can be enrolled to another school, she will give him a passing mark?

She also said the school will provide my nephew a good moral character (certificate). Now, I ask you, if my nephew is as difficult as she has made his parents believe, why would they even give him this certificate?

I don’t even understand why the teacher was the one his parents were talking to. Why didn’t the principal herself talk to them? Is this how they handle difficult situations or they just do not know what their teachers are up to?

I still believe that being a teacher is the noblest profession. I still dream that one day I could afford to give up a well-paying job and teach instead. I still wish that my nephew can finish even secondary education without being ridiculed, shouted at, thrown a chalk, or be sent home for not wearing his uniform.

I remember my nephew telling me when he was younger, referring to something that I was coveting on TV: “Di bale Tita, ‘pag tapos ko ng college at yumaman ako, ibibili kita ng sampu niyan.

I beamed at him that day, and wished really hard for it to come true. I prayed that someday, he could fly and soar higher than the rest. But now it seems like there are people who wants to clip his wings.

Ms. Abad, I tell you now and you must do well to remember it, you will not succeed in putting him down. If we cannot find more good teachers to formally teach him, then I would do it, even if it means not having a diploma telling him he finished secondary school. We will not let that piece of paper be the judge of what he can be.

As a line from my favorite movie says… if you wish hard enough, love long enough… anything is possible.

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