9 March 2010

It is not in the nature of man–nor of any living entity–to start out by giving up, by spitting in one’s own face and damning existence; that requires a process of corruption whose rapidity differs from man to man. Some give up at the first touch of pressure; some sell out; some run down by imperceptible degrees and lose their fire, never knowing when or how they lost it. Then all of these vanish in the vast swamp of their elders who tell them persistently that maturity consists of abandoning one’s mind; security, of abandoning one’s values; practicality, of losing self-esteem.

Ayn Rand

Ten days unemployed. Now reading The Fountainhead.


Another random Saturday

7 February 2009

I had to wake up really early today to finish my LS paper. Now I’m taking the prerequisite procrastination break – a couple of puffs and wonderful world music care of Putumayo. Which is how I discovered why those places in the UK where people go to get inebriated are called pubs. It’s short for public house.

The world is amazing.

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In other news, the people of Marikina woke up to find their little valley topped off with a generous layer of whipped cream. All hail the great cow in the sky.


an exegesis rant

21 January 2007

As an undergraduate, I find that being required to do an exegesis of Scripture is futile. At its most basic, exegesis requires the student to have a grasp of the culture depicted in Scripture, and by necessity, the language too in which the texts in question are written. Such skills are in all probability lacking in the average undergraduate, and it would be unreasonably demanding to require the student to acquire such knowledge. Of course professors understand this, and I suppose that is the reason why instead of tasking students to actually discover the extratextuality of the texts, students are referred to exegetical literature.

In essence, since we do not have the necessary expertise required to do an original exegesis of the text, we read the exegesis done by theologians and then duplicate their work, avoiding being labeled as plagiarists by feebly paraphrasing and summarizing their ideas. This is not necessarily wrong, for is this not what we do when we report on a certain topic? We read about the subject and then communicate the information we have obtained in a personal way. This is an important exercise, because it develops our ability to process and present information.

However, a distinction must be made between actually doing an exegesis of a text, in which one obtains an original (not necessarily unique) output, and making a factual report, in which information is merely synthesized. It is important to note the difference because the student may come to believe that he is making an exegesis when actually he is not. Moreover, by trying to pass off fact-finding as exegesis, the importance of creating new knowledge as an aspect of research is ignored, creating students who are pathetically unoriginal.

In effect, contrary to the desired outcome of the student becoming more critical, we only end up with students who are disheartened by having to trawl through highly specialized literature to extract insights the wordings of which they can manipulate and then half-heartedly pass off as their own. This is why I deem being asked to do an exegesis futile. The time could have been more fruitfully spent carefully studying an established exegetical work and then relating it to our experience.


strength of spirit

8 January 2007

Another touching testimony to the strength of the human spirit. Ever heard of Dick and Rick Hoyt? Well, they’re not you’re average father-and-son tandem. When Rick was born, he got strangled by his own umbilical cord. Although he didn’t die, he was permanently brain damaged. His doctors said that he would be a vegetable all his life. But his parents would not give up.

Read the rest of their amazing story here (an article from Sports Illustrated). There is a video at the bottom of the page. Or, you can visit the Team Hoyt official website.

Now, what was it again that was so impossible to do?

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for shame

7 January 2007

If what happened to Nicole happened to one of my daughters (there are several of them), I would tell her to shut up because she had it coming to her.When you sleep with a crocodile, be prepared to get eaten. Why should my daughter, if she got into that situation, cry rape when she went willingly with the guy who supposedly raped her?

Justice Secretary Gonzalez’s guts – Ramon Tulfo

That is a quote from Ramon Tulfo’s article in today’s (Jan 7) Inquirer. What a shameful thing for a respectable Filipino to say, much more a father. The “when you sleep with a crocodile” line of reasoning that many are so proud of repeating is an inappropriate analogy, not least because we are men, and not mere animals. Or is Tulfo implying here that US servicemen, nay, all men, are only as good as wild beasts?

Two wrongs do not make a right and though a woman may make mistakes and choose the wrong company, or get drunk, it does not mean that it is ‘just right’ that she gets taken advantage of. In the first place, as I recall, the law protects the rights of all citizens, be they right or in the wrong. It exists to protect the rights of people even if they screw up. How chilling to imagine that many Filipinos agree with him.

Email your reactions to isumbongmokaytulfo@yahoo.com

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when are we going to learn from others?

6 January 2007

Taken from the US National Education Association (NEA) January 2007 cover story:

“Global competitiveness depends on students’ abilities to innovate and invent, not on their test scores,” agrees Yong Zhao, professor and director of the U.S.-China Center for Research on Educational Excellence at Michigan State University. America has long embraced its students’ passion, ingenuity, dreams, and ideas—none of which can be measured by test scores, says Zhao. Asia, on the other hand, has traditionally valued test scores above all else. Even where scores are high and innovative educational approaches are valued, as in Singapore, it’s still felt that testing plays too much of a role.

“Yours is a talent meritocracy, ours is an exam meritocracy,” Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Minister of Education of Singapore, said in a Newsweek interview. “There are some parts of the intellect that we are not able to test well—like creativity, curiosity, a sense of adventure, ambition….America has a culture of learning that challenges conventional wisdom, even if it means challenging authority. These are the areas where Singapore must learn from America.”

Another blow for too much objectivity in the classroom. Maybe our beloved scihi teachers can advocate this to the proper authorities? We are a leading school after all, so it is just right that we lead the pack in terms of progress. Speaking of which, here is Toyota’s recipe for success. It is a manifesto on innovation – not for the faint of heart, but definitely a good read.


authority and the student-teacher divide

6 January 2007

I feel that a lot of what makes up the student-teacher divide is the concept of authority. Authority carries with it such a depth of meaning that it is easy to jump to false implications. Such as “I Know A Lot” = Authority = Respect Me = I Am Powerful. I have experienced again and again the way “higher-ups” feel they have to exert themselves, as if their “authority” was the basis of having a student-teacher relationship (not that kind of relationship, silly).

Yes, the dictionary says that authority is the power or right to give orders and enforce obedience. But in the complete sense of the word, obedience is a personal decision on the part of the follower. Therefore, as long as the student never completely obeys the teacher, the teacher does not have authority.

Authority is not had, it is given. When someone informs you, and you believe him, you are allowing him to form you (because the information you acquired is bound to influence your decisions) and thus, you are giving him authority. (PS: This is not my original idea, I just read this from somewhere but unfortunately forgot who wrote it. Any of you readers know?)

Authority is not what defines the student and teacher relationship. It is the result of that relationship, wherein the student trusts the teacher enough to inform and form him. Authority is not the thing which allows the teacher to teach the student. Rather, it is the reward of successful mentoring.

And like authority, trust is earned, not taken as a given. How to get students to trust their teachers? Get the teachers to listen.

What’s your take on this? I’m listening.


edublogger survey

6 January 2007

From dangerously irrelevant:

All education bloggers are hereby invited and encouraged to…

1. complete the short and completely unscientific, but hopefully
interesting, education blogosphere survey;

2. forward the URL of said
survey to all other known education bloggers to ensure decent
representation of the education blogosphere; and

3. publicize said
survey URL on their own blogs to foster greater participation in this
most noble endeavor.

The survey is here.


more advantages of school 2.0

5 January 2007

[Continuation of the previous post, "the hive mind"]

A valuable benefit of collaboration, online or not, is that it alleviates the lack of teachers in our country. Our mentors feel overwhelmed because they mostly view education as writing on a tabula rasa. With so many students to fill, it is no wonder that they inevitably tire, and instead of thinking of new things to write and new ways to do it, settle for what they are most comfortable with. In adopting a master-apprentice approach and employing the Internet as an ally, teachers can focus less on the menial aspects of education and give more time to the students and the pursuit of knowledge.

More than just providing additional sources of information, the Internet can also be utilized to assist with assessment, given the right infrastructure. My teachers have pointed out to me that they would willingly use subjective testing methods except that they do not have time to process all of these. Why not, then, invite “guest teachers” to help in checking the works of their students. The guest teacher, in turn, stands to benefit from gaining new insights at best, or if not, good karma at least.

Of course, changing our mindsets and then our procedures won’t be a piece of cake. Putting in place the right mechanisms will be difficult, but then, did we ever get to put flags on Mt. Everest without trying hard?


the hive mind

3 January 2007

In science fiction, beings that are hive minds are portrayed as being superior to mankind. Although these aliens are inevitably defeated, they generally wreak considerable havoc to humanity before being shooed away. In Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, the insectoid enemy is is a formidable foe, with whole armies acting in concert no matter the spatial difference. New knowledge is absorbed by the whole species immediately, which means that tactics used against a unit cannot be used against another one, because they would know how to deal with. This capability would surely be useful for us, if ever hostile aliens do exist, but sadly, we don’t have the psychic abilities required to share knowledge in an instant.

On the other hand, the prospects of our technology seem to be leading us to this future. In the future of complete connectivity that is in store for us, our methods of sharing knowledge will become more encompassing and efficient, and some day, we would be able to know everything that everyone else knows. We’re being abstract here, of course, which means that you might not be able to know classified government information, et cetera.

But that’s thinking too far ahead. Even now, education stands to benefit greatly from the application of new technologies. Think hive mind less the single-mindedness. (Pardon the oxymoron but hive minds, for all their worth have only one point of view.) The advantages of leveraging online social networks (through all forms of publishing and collaboration) have been trumpeted by many so I don’t think I need to point those out anymore. Instead, in the next post, I’d like to mention a few aspects that I think is especially relevant to the Philippines.

[Update: I just realized that I'd bookmarked a similarly titled entry by Clarence Fisher.]


we’re not even at School1.0

2 January 2007

After weeks of getting lost in the edublogosphere, I’ve finally found the place where the young bloggers lie. The Bass Player has a good post about the benefits of School 2.0 from the point of view of a 15-year-old. He raises all the usual points, and I find myself nodding my head in agreement all the way.

The next step: taking these things into the Philippine context.

Besides the more concrete obstacles (read:lack of computers and computer literacy) that the Philippine education system has to hurdle to get to School 2.0, there are many roadblocks, mostly cultural, which I fear are harder to overcome.

First is our concept of education. In more progressive countries, learning how to think is important because their economies are knowledge-based. Focus is on the person as a creator. Students in poorer countries can’t afford to study to “learn how to think”. Most students go to school to obtain the credentials needed to get a high-paying job, which for the majority of Filipinos equals blue-collar jobs abroad.

Because of this, our educators (and yes, I know this because I interviewed my teachers) don’t see the need to change the education system. I sense an attitude of: it doesn’t matter what you learn here, the important thing is you graduate high school and then go to college and then get a high-paying job. True, this might be the most rational mindset for our citizenry but I’m afraid this is going to have dire consequences in the long run. In addition to us draining our brains to other countries, our present systems are generating inadequate intellectual capital which is just going to hurt us big time.

More on that next time. The second sad-but-true fact is that our teachers don’t trust us to make our own decisions because they know that we aren’t educated enough. Which is partly the fault of many students for not being engaged in learning, but which is mostly the fault of our teachers themselves, for making us instinctively shy away from having to think. Classroom discussion is pitiful. Teachers ask questions to which everyone knows that there is an expected answer, which unfortunately, no one knows. This kind of setup makes students ,one, afraid to participate because, they’ll feel humiliated if they don’t get the “right” answer and, two, complacent, because even if they have new ideas, they know it won’t matter anyway.

So I’ll stop now becaust this is getting really sad. Really, really, sad.


not just my dream

1 January 2007

Do you ever imagine your ideal high school? I do. I spend a lot of time thinking about the future of education and how dramatically learning will shift in the next 10 years. I wonder if public high schools will shift to mirror the learning shift. I wonder if we’ll plan the changes we need in public education quickly enough. I suspect we’ll fall short.

That, from the blog of a public shool principal in the States. My sentiments exactly. And spare me the our-situation-here-is-different-from-theirs sermon. I do hope there are big shots thinking about this in scihi, in our other public schools, in DepEd. There’s something amiss in our education system and for all our talk, we’ve never had meaningful conversations about it. Open conversations where all the stakeholders of education (teachers, students, society in general) can participate.

At times like these, I wish I am not 18 and still a student because right now I am finding it hard to get anything moving and I have a feeling it has something to do with my being a kid.


let us have a vision

18 December 2006

Let us have a vision.
Though we may be weary of trying
to break free from the oppressive truths of our present;
Let us have a vision of better things -
When looking around us brings only despair,
When what we long to change seems unchangeable
And the odds against us insurmountable,
When our efforts are hindered at every turn
so that some lose hope
and some lose will
and some stop caring at all.
Let us have a vision of better things
And a burning passion
to light the darkness of the unbelievers
and consume the fears of the fearful.
Let us have a vision of better things
And let us not stop reaching for it
For we are men, and worthy of a better fate
than this.

I agree that sometimes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. My beef with people who defend the status quo (either by actively or passively resisting efforts towards change) is this: if we can have something better why not go for it? I mean, the French people didn’t tell themselves, “let’s stay oppressed because it’s going to teach us to stomach hunger and cope with poverty and make us ‘better’ persons in the end” – they revolted and brought about a better social order. Which is not to say that we are peasants, or that we should revolt.

My point is, we are where we are because our forbears didn’t settle for less. At one point or another in history, they decided that they didn’t have to endure what they were enduring, and they changed it. If now, we just sit on our haunches and tolerate our inadequate paradigms because ‘it makes us stronger’, how in the world do we get to the next, better paradigm?

In the first place, we go to school to educate ourselves. Saying that we don’t need to fix what’s broken because it teaches us life lessons anyway is really ridiculous, and lacking in perspective. After all, I’m sure there are many other opportunities for us to learn that. And I am pretty sure that “life lessons” are not what the classroom is about. You know what life lessons and “street smarts” are good for? Surviving. Surviving is hard, I agree, but if we concern ourselves with merely surviving, we’ll be no better than animals. To be man, we have to be rational, be critical, and learned. Guess where you learn those.

But really, all of this is too darn complicated and tiring. Let’s just go on with our life as it is. After all, we’re only kids. Sure, go ahead. Just know that there’s so much more to being a ‘kid’. And you’re all missing out on it.


it’s shameless, what they’re doing

13 December 2006

I admit, I tend to approach pro-administration columns with hostility, but today’s Political Tidbits column by Belinda Olivares-Cunanan is just upsetting.

Vic is normally a very pacific man, but he must have been incensed at that point, like many of us, by this non-media man’s behavior.

The lady has the gall to actually try to defend Agustin’s actions, writing off his rude and unbecoming behavior to his being ‘incensed’. What gets me really riled, though, is her pointed description of Constantino as a ‘non-media man’. So now, in addition to Congressmen (Rep. Cagas of Davao del Sur) screaming “You are only guests! You are not even congressmen!”, we also have media people putting those who aren’t “media” in their place.

Also, I read that Carmen Pedrosa, another Arroyo cheerleader, was shouting “Shut up! Shut up!” at Constantino. Geez. Look who’s talking miss. Another thing I remember is when a certain Muslim congresswoman was roundly berated for harassing a waitress. You don’t see that happening now, do you?

And Alex Magno says he prefers Opinion columns to blogs (which he calls poisonous or something to that effect).


open letter

2 December 2006

A pdf version of the letter can be found in the following link, for those who prefer to read it that way. It’s better formatted and is passed around easier! Open Letter

[Update: If you've read the open letter, you might want to check out ilovescihi.wordpress.com]

—–

An Open Letter to the Student Body, Administration, and Community
of Cebu City National Science High School

Dear friends,

Just recently, I read an email being circulated around the Internet containing a list of complaints regarding CCNSHS. All this talk of a delinquent transferee remarkably unchastised, the increase in student population without commensurate expansion of facilities, the teachers’ apparently hostile stance towards the administration, and especially the tone of frustration with which the student described the “magic” happening to students’ grades. The fact, though, that this is nothing new makes it all the sadder because it seems that instead of the faults (we had seen in Science High in our day) disappearing, they have become worse.
Read the rest of this entry »


vampire’s eulogy

24 November 2006

only a few
truly appreciate
the beauty of the night -
not many are privy
to its silent murmurings
or the lonely starlight
or the tender glow
of the pink pre-dawn.
only a few
dare turn from the sun
and with the moonbeams
rendezvous,
their fanciful glow
ever forming, unforming;
not many hold forth
from the sweet grasp of sleep -
that power that night
wields over the weak


dusk

21 November 2006

dusk melts into the night
like a shadow,
stealing into the darkness
like birdsong,
gradually fading to silence
like sleep;
gently bringing the peace.


random journal

1 November 2006

I’m too bored and too overwhelmed with ideas to write something new. I did, however, find this from my “journal”. Some more episodes of airport adventure for whoever cares to read.

So on the third day of supposed-to-be-home-already, I am still here stuck in NAIA. The first day, we didn’t push through with going home because dad decided to make us wait to get Cody the next day. Which, considering, is okay with me. The second day, we didn’t make it again because we got to the airport at 2 pm, and all the flights that afternoon were full (Read: PAL overbooks all its flights), and mom and I being designated NonRevenue (because it’s a free ticket), well you get the point. At 9.30 last night, mom decided to not spend the night at the airport so that we could get some good shut-eye. We took up our bags, stood on the sidewalk for 10 more minutes before finding a bus that would take us to YSTAPHIL. And sleep. And back here with nothing to do. Actually, I tried to sleep – twice. But it just won’t work. It’s too cold, and they seem to have designed the benches in here especially so that you will have a hard time sleeping on them.


stories of home

30 October 2006

I always look forward to when summer comes around. The young Maria Claras come out to cool themselves in the shade of the lubi. Reclining on their chairs, their bosoms subtly heave as they fan the humid air from their faces. Others prefer to lounge by their windows, mamintana what we call it, and as they lean out to catch the breeze, their breasts strain against the cloth, and then some hapless young man walks right into a lamp post as they giggle in delight.

Read the rest of this entry »


lonely man

29 October 2006

You were standing there so lonely. Hands in your pockets while you leaned on the fence, your icy gaze somewhere not here and a cigarette dangling carelessly from your lips. It spoke volumes of your sadness, you should know, the way the nicotine crept into your lungs. The way the wisps of smoke rose lazily in the air, rolling about as if they were dancing the waltz you danced last night with the woman who was not your wife.
There is a reason our fathers tell us to hood our eyes: in that single unguarded instant, your soul glimmered, your lashes trembled to the beat of her young heart, and a million miles away, your weary wife cried out.


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