Week 1 e-journal

  My Pledge of Commitment: 1. I pledge to enjoy and find value on everything I learn and each and every experience in this course. 2. I pledge to be in control of my ability to succeed. 3. I pledge to be prepared to do what it takes to do so. 4. I pledge to not put off difficult problems. I will be a collaborative learner. I endeavor to improve my communication style so that I can get the most out of this course. Study Skills Test Result: studyskillsresults

Know Thyself

Based on the tests, I can say that I am good at time management. I have a high sense of urgency, self-discipline and responsibility. I dislike procrastinating and would prefer to start working on a task immediately instead of leaving things at the last minute. All these things will work for my advantage. This is my first trimester in UPOU though, and it’s been a long time since I was last in school. I know that it will be a challenge to make that shift in the mindset from being a trainer to a learner. In addition, I don’t consider myself a good notetaker. I prefer to listen in meetings and lectures. Now I am realizing that a bulk of my time would be spent poring over reading materials which will require me, as an auditory learner, to make the necessary adjustments in order to adapt to a different mode of learning. I believe that with every hardship one encounters, one must simply look at the bigger picture and not get too caught up with the grind and the tedium that faces him. The challenges that I am facing and will be facing are opportunities for me to improve myself, reinvent myself towards becoming a better version of me.

Compare your 5 scores. Which is the highest? Which is the lowest?

Essentialism: 16

Perennialism: 18

Progressivism: 24

Social Reconstructionism: 19

Existentialism: 14

I scored the highest in Progressivism and the lowest in Existentialism.

How would you describe your educational philosophy and values?

I do frown on the teacher-centered philosophies. I’ve witnessed the Essentialist philosophy first-hand in my dealings and contacts with EFL students, particularly Koreans, Japanese and Chinese. I am very much aware of their cram schools. In as much as I am in awe of the East Asian race for their math smarts and for consistently topping standardized test scores, I have seen how their educational system has produced students who are merely robots, students who have lost their heart and soul, students whose emotional intelligence has been stunted. The strict rigors and standards in their educational system have driven some students to commit suicide over low test scores. The towering degree of unhappiness among Asian kids is alarming These cram schools are specialized schools that train their students to meet particular goals, most commonly to pass the entrance examinations of high schools and universities. In some cases, children as young as 7 years old mare made to attend preparatory primary schools during their summer break, On top of this, they are also made to go to English academy and piano lessons after classes. Rote-memorization education plays a greater part in student life. It broke my heart to see these kids unable to enjoy the simple joys of childhood or the innocuous delights of adolescence in favor of the dizzying array of classes they need to take.

Do you agree or disagree with the results? Justify your answers.

Yes, I do agree with the rersults. In my own classes, I do favor the student-centered approach more because I saw how the conventional teacher-centered education produced students who lack the motivation and had a negative attitude towards education. One conversation with a particularly bubbly student comes to mind. I’d noticed the changes in her since she started junior high. This prompted me to ask her how school has affected her. Her response startled me. She said, “In my impression, I was born to be a very lively and outgoing person, but after receiving such an education, the pressure of exams and the common anticipation and values of society forced me to work towards the same direction as everybody else.”

Moreover, the pace of teacher-centered education is too hurried. Because of this, students are not able to absorb information well enough, and this causes more stress. There is also very little regard for student welfare as teachers don’t take the child’s physical limits into consideration, which overwhelms the students, and again reducing the motivation they have towards learning. All the teachers and elders care about is the score and certifications the student gets. Teachers and elders fail to recognize a student’s learning style and his/her natural aptitude.

Personally, I prefer a fun learning environment which the student-centered approach affords. If there is too much to learn and too many tests with too little time to study, students find it hard to learn well even if they want to. I compare my teaching style/philosophy and its impact on my students and how they perceive learning/education; I can say that students are more interested, more motivated. As a trainer, I think of myself as more of a facilitator or guide rather than a director, so this has encouraged my students to speak to me more freely about their concerns. My comparatively relaxed pace of teaching allows my trainees better and deeper understanding of the topic. I do believe that when students exhaust themselves trying to learn a topic, this pulls down the efficiency of learning.

How have your culture, religion, upbringing, and political beliefs shaped your

responses to the items in this inventory?” (Philosophy of education, 2006)

Although I admitted on frowning on the teacher-centered philosophy, my conservative background has stopped me from completely forsaking the merits of the teacher-centered approach. I believe that teachers play a myriad of roles from role model, facilitator, cheerleader, educator, specialist and authority figure. Out of these many hats a teacher must put on, he/she is above all a subject matter expert.

But I do believe that as a trainer (a subject matter expert), I must focus not on myself but on my participants. With tests looming in the horizon, it is tempting to think that I must get through the material, but that is not my aim. I try to keep in mind that my commitment is to my students, not the system. My main goal is for my participants to learn. I have learned to respect that different people have their own learning styles. — that is, that different ways of learning certain concepts are more or less productive for certain students. As I see it, for learning styles not to exist, it would have to be the case that for every single concept that a person ever learns, modifying the exact way in which he/she learns it has no significant effect on how quickly he/she learns it, how deeply he/she learns it, and/or how long he/she retains it.

I happen to love teaching grammar, but it had perpetually been a challenge for trainers/educators to teach it. I was leading a course on English Proficiency—subject-verb agreement a few months ago and I noticed that I didn’t seem to be making any headway with one particular participant. I happened to draw a diagram—a mind map, my SVA map as I called it, and the participant responded well. In fact, everyone did. VA was no longer a source of drudgery for them. They were intrigued by this new approach. Their curiosity was piqued, and I have never seen a class come alive in a Grammar module. So I started thinking in terms of communicating well to this participant that I should draw stick men or other simple drawings. This worked; the participant found flowcharts very helpful. I did the same for Verb Tenses and Prepositions. Students come up to me and tell me that all these concepts have never clicked for them as it did when I presented it to them. When I am creating a PowerPoint, I make sure that the words are brief but also I select a picture to accompany my words. I am amazed how few teachers do this. I have sat through lectures and presentations where the speaker would flash slides that are too wordy that it looked like a page from a textbook, and he/she would merely read off his slide. Occasionally, the speaker would try to engage the audience by asking them to do the same. In those times, I think to myself, “What a waste of time both for me and for the speaker.” The speaker’s time would have been better spent doing more productive tasks than creating such a wordy PowerPoint presentation. But then again, I doubt he spent a significant amount of time with the presentation given that the only effort I see is that very handy skill of pressing Ctrl C and Ctrl V. Teachers should learn from the television news. Very often a picture is behind the newscaster. It takes a long time to find a suitable picture, but as we know, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” The picture will probably be remembered more than an alliteration with words or some clever literary quip.

I treat my knowledge of learning styles as an inspiration for practice. I don’t think that knowing about the different learning styles theories should be regarded as a sacred truth about how students learn, but as a way to prime the creativity pump, to think about new angles on presenting topics, a new spin on churning out a lesson plan.

How have your own education and life experiences influenced your philosophical beliefs?”

(Philosophy of education, 2006)

I would often say that I have had a very colorful life. Those who know me well would say ‘Amen’. In college, I started out at the University of the Philippines in Manila. I was one of the elite few who managed to qualify to enrol in a quota course – Pre Med. I stayed there for a number of years until I mustered the nerve to transfer to Diliman for a course that taught the art of frivolity (or so they said). But I would not be deterred. It wasn’t until I set foot in Diliman when I experienced the difference in teaching styles of my professors in Diliman from the teacher-centered, I’m-the-teacher, I-know-better Essentialist approach of my professors in Manila and the profound effects these teaching styles had on me as a student. I flunked many of my major subjects in UP Manila, and I had always thought that it was merely because I didn’t have the brains for the said course. That could be the case, but one of my professors in Diliman, Prof. Ignacio, said these words, “For learning to take place, a teacher should lower the affective filter.” The puzzle suddenly fell in place. A teacher should not instill fear (neither fear of failure nor fear of the teacher) in his students; a teacher should seek ways to make the class more fun and interesting in order for the students to learn. I remembered how I always dreaded going to class when I was in UP Manila, and how much I feared my professors. I compared it with how incredibly light I felt since I had transferred to Diliman and how my grades just started going back up. It was then when I re-discovered my love for learning which I had lost in UP Manila.

As a Corporate Trainer and having been in the field of training for a number of years, I have been fortunate to have been sent to different seminars and training certifications that have molded my teaching tenets even more and have shaped my values as a trainer.

Although I do believe in the argument that teachers must select what is worth knowing, and that students are simply too inexperienced and too immature, too volatile and too rash to know what they should learn (I highlighted those in my notes), but now I’m starting to digress. I believe this is a case-to-case basis. Earlier I was thinking of students as the traditional classroom students—elementary and high school students. But with my audience being adult learners, this approach would not work. Adults need to know the value of an information to learn something. WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) Adults need to be involved in the planning and evaluation of their instruction.

As a trainer, my upbringing has been to favour a more task-based approach to learning a language as opposed to the more traditional PPP (Present Practice Produce). I’m a big believer of the communicative approach to teaching language where students spend a lot of time communicating and using the target language, and my students certainly spend a lot more time communicating with my task-based lesson. Moreover, this approach is more enjoyable and motivating which is exactly the way I like it. I don’t want my students to feel the same way I did as a student in UP Manila.

As Plato once said: Do not train children to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.”





2 thoughts on “Week 1 e-journal

  1. Hi Sheryll,

    Nice entry here. I definitely agree with you that learning by force is not learning. Same with you, I was taught in a traditional way and I find myself not really learning at all.

    I admire teachers like you 🙂 and I like your Plato quote here 🙂

    Happy Learning!



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