For this entry, I consider this much of a social issue because a school is a microcosm of a country or the outside world so to speak.
This is not an attack towards the members of the academe who try to implement guiding rules and regulations to put standards in the education. This is just a wake up call to the people who are on top of the academic ladder. This is for those who should be protecting the sanctity of quality education one school has to offer. While I’m not an excellent student with regard to my grades (which the system itself forced me not to believe that intelligence is not based on academic merits), it is ad hominem to say that I’m not capable of pinpointing mishaps on overlooked academic practices.
High Grades = I’m intelligent
Of my more than four years stay in the University, I found and met different professors, of ranks, age, specialization etc. I have witnessed how they teach. Some are strict. Some are passionate. Some are lenient. Some are diligent. Some don’t care. Some are lazy. Some don’t teach. If you’re to ask a student regarding preferences on professor, he will probably say that he likes a professor who can easily be talked to and quite lenient and a person who gives high grades. That’s what the students want mostly. They tend to avoid those strict may it be regarding attendance or in academic requirements. They want to learn maybe not too much and pass or get high grades easily. This is a typical observation that can be inferred as a person or student who prioritizes his survival in school and will do anything to remain standing.
As I mentioned, I don’t really believe that grades are the basis of your intelligence. It’s just numbers although it is a key factor somewhat. Still, these are just numbers. I remember when I was in fourth year HS when our very remarkable academic institution was preparing for its 30th year anniversary. They were seeking students to perform in a musical play in the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo for its foundation day. Of course, since it was an academic institution, we all focused on academics. So there were a few who wanted to become part of this musical event. But the much misplaced cunning of the school administration, they decided to “award” those people who will join the musical play rehearsals instead of studying. It was a big play so practice for it would take months. If a student joins the musical play, there will be additional points to be given in subjects such as science, math English etc. Other non-academic requirements need not to be passed anymore because of exemption. A lot of students took that offer where you won’t study yet you’re going to get high grades. Amazing isn’t it? There were a few of us who stayed and continued to get the education we deserved. But the teachers were also part of the musical play and teaching us was quite an additional load. Hence, they canceled the classes so why teach? They stopped teaching and said to wait until those CCP partcipants finish their play before they can start teaching again so that we all get the education we deserve without a few getting advance. So what did we do during the times when we had to take the class? Just played a lot of games. But during the exams, we needed to take them all. But of course, those who participated in the CCP event got additional points for their hardwork.
Where is the essence of quality education then based on academic merit?
Later on I realized that the give-me-grade-so-I-can-be-called-intelligent is a pandemic. That’s why those people who get high grades don’t really mean that they’re really intelligent. There’s always politics in numbers. These things can always be fabricated in that sense.
School is my second home
Since a child spends most of his childhood life in school, educators say that the school is a person’s second home. Interestingly in the Philippines, to get a good second home comes with a price. If you can pay, you get a good second home with nice facilities. Otherwise, just be a good person. Interestingly, a lot of schools try their best to show the goodness of their institution. They invest on facilities and faculty to attract students. Anyway, when I first heard of the Henry Sy Hall that DLSU is planning to build, I smiled because of the facility that school will build to cater services for the students. But when I learned that a “mall” will be built in the midst of the university, I really got literally angry. The school or the sponsor will spend P1.4 billion for a 15-floor building. What are the contents of that building? Study areas? Classrooms? etc etc. These facilities are already existing in the first place. And what will happen to the existing facilities that are overlapped? Destroy it? My goodness. This action now questions the motives of the school. Dr. Nuncio commented on my FB status and said “Edifice complex.” And for me it’s the right term that describes what the school is doing. I won’t further elaborate on my arguments versus the school’s plan on erecting a very expensive building. But the bottomline, isn’t the building just for aesthetics? I again remembered my high school when they decided to build a big chapel. We were all asking the admin to first provide a gym because it can be used everyday by all students. But they decided to build a big chapel for first Friday masses and baccalaureate masses. Edifice complex.
Teachers are powerful. Students are not.
In La Salle, when it is time for class and the student comes in late, he is marked late. When a student misses a classes, he gets zero for the day. When a student uses his cellphone and is caught while in class, he is sent to Discipline Office and gets penalize. But when the mentioned scenarios are made by the professor, nothing bad happens to him. When you try to fight for your right, your respondent professor is avenged by his professor friend and tries to get back to you to another class you are taking. This is reality and this is true. There are a lot of complaints of biased professors who grade low on papers whose opinions oppose theirs even if they say that there are no right or wrong answers. But what can the students do? Complain then what? There is no equality between teachers and students because they are distinct. However the powerful can be abusive. The powerless if not treated equally is always oppressed. It’s very easy for a professor to give a 0.0 than for a student to have his professor get fired for his incompetency and unbecoming of a faculty.
My school is popular. Yours is where the hell is that?
According to the modern philosopher Foucault in his writing “Questions on Geography”, he explained the vital role of a location in getting power. In relation to schools, it’s the same concept. When a regular student from DLSU applies for a work and then a student from Zamboanga Polytechnic University who graduated Magna Cum Laude applies for the same position, the job will be more likely given to the Lasallian. That’s true and we have to face it. But for me, I’ve been in La Salle and saw the imperfections of the school. Many times, I realize that it’s still up to the person to prove himself that he is rightful and worthy for the position he is aiming for and not the school. But it’s hard still especially if you came from some never before heard school.
Cogito Ergo Sum
All those misused symbolisms of education I mentioned are just realities that we face. But there are a lot more. The principles, however, of these things are still essential. Grades really check how you fare in a particular topic. Schools really need good facilities to provide good education. There is really a clear distinction between a teacher and a student. Quality schools stand out against those who don’t perform best. The problem is, these things are exaggerated very much and misuse. What happens? The purpose of it becomes nonsense. People who are in higher learning should review these things and do something about it. I’m no expert in education. I’m just a victim of these scenarios and maybe a lot of people too. But as what I’m seeing now is to be like St. La Salle- a man who dedicated his life for education. If all the teachers are like St. La Salle, there won’t be grade-bribes or overly-expensive facilities or even abusive professors or discriminating schools. Everything will be as expected: fair, happy, conducive for learning and simple.