Against Forgetting

More and more I remember little. This was not always the case.

Sometimes I am invited to dinner by friends from a past life. The night inevitably turns on a dull reminiscent note. Pre med days and the oddly famous yet obscure lines, faces, characters and jargon that came along with that life. Far easier to acquiesce and keep the growing confirmation of having only a faint recollection of memories from a decade ago, a city or two ago, to myself. The famous scene plays out on the screen of my mind, the uncanny moments accumulate. How could I not remember?

Why is it that I remember some things so vividly and others not at all? Some things I remember in such crisp and perfect detail  that I can almost relive that moment in my mind, over and over again. Some things stand out in my memory that I am transported to an era far back when I hear certain sounds or smell a particular scent.

At the same time, I have difficulty remembering the name of that person I met just ten minutes ago. Even more so, I barely recall the names of my professors from pre med yet remember those from Creative Writing with such fondness, respect and awe.

It occurs to me, upon entering a building for the first time, that it is not my first time to enter it. That I was there sometime ago, to watch a play, if not to attend a meeting. That, since I had been there before, the building should not have been too hard to find. That I should not have been too bewildered by the directions, too confused by the one-way signs.

Instead I am profusely apologizing to those I have kept waiting. I say, I’m not at all familiar with this area, you see.

My sister hardly  never practiced Information Technology yet effortlessly recalls her hardware and software. If there is a need to know cable ports, software, apps, or the feast day of a particular saint, she is the one to call. I am a pre med dropout with no recollection of anatomy class beyond the sight of a charred cadaver for dissection in the first month of the semester. To distinguish between the tibia and the fibula, I have to tell myself the tibia is thick and the fibula is fine. Or is the tibia thin and the fibula fat? (Is it any wonder I failed Anatomy? Or maybe I remembered more back then, but my trauma-scarred brain has since chosen to block those memories.)

Looking back, I realize I have no recollection of certain periods of my life. Large chunks of the story of my life missing. Gone, with no conceivable way of getting back for I was never really aware when and where they started slipping away. It’s pre med days mostly and also a significant part of my early days in Creative Writing. It is as if a haze had descended on me that only started  lifting when I transferred to Creative Writing.

Is it only the happiest of memories that follow us through life? How about the most horrible memories – memories that supposedly haunt us no matter how hard we try to forget them? I’ve read about those, heard about such even. Why has my mind chosen not to recall?

They say that what makes a memory actually memorable isn’t the actions that make up the memory. We were there in ’05, not ’08. We went to the terminal in Pasay, not Cubao. You ordered tulips, not hydrangeas. You were in Sweden, not Fort Worth. I went out for coffee, not to shop. I walked out of  my removals exam, or maybe I never really went at all. The one with the dead nails taught Neuroanatomy, not Physiology. We missed it because I had a migraine, not fever. Or maybe I just never really wanted to go after all. Maybe it’s true. Maybe it’s not the things that happened that matter to you, but rather how those things made you feel that sticks with you long after.

I pore over letters and photographs, bank statements and plane tickets I religiously keep, artifacts from a life I can’t quite remember. At times, this failure to recall frustrates me. If that memory were so horrible, how come I can’t even bring myself to remember? Or is there a fine line between  a memory so jarring that it haunts you and a memory so horrible your mind works triple time to forget?

What does this tell me as an educator seeking to create a positive learning atmosphere for my learners? Was it my fault as a learner? As a pre med student back then, perhaps it would have been simpler to accept and concede and continue that route but I just had to be so stubborn. Maybe I should have asked more questions. Maybe I should have just said yes to it all. Would that have made a difference? Was it that failing grade that caused my mind to turn the lights off when I wish to replay that scene? Or was the learning experience simply so trauma-inducing that my mind has chosen to black out, shut down and shield itself?


BF Skinner Likes Your Post

I’ve only recently started being active on Facebook. Well, let me qualify that statement. Now I can say that I check my FB account regularly. There used to be a time when I treated FB like that second cousin twice removed that you see at a family reunion that your mom dragged you to.

“We should do this again some time.”

“Totally!” or not  (you mutter under your breath).

I post thoughts and musings occasionally. I’m not nearly as active as other people. At most, I can stand being on FB for 10 minutes. But hey, it’s a start. My account is no longer as dormant as the Taal Volcano. And no, I don’t have Twitter and Instagram.

Why not? Well, to be very honest, I don’t want to. I already have enough social media to drive me crazy. Also, I figured all this “follow me!”, “like me!” can not be healthy. It’s like we’re all trying hard to impress people. “Pleeeeeeeease like me! Do you like my new dress? Do you like my trip to so-and-so? Do you envy my fabulous life?” It’s like every day is performance level day. Well, I guess that’s good because we’re forced to really live life. But at the same time, there’s this unending competition that is so exhausting.

On my part, I just really like writing. What better way to put it out there than to post it on FB?  At the same time, if you don’t like what I write then I have no problem with you moving along. I don’t enslave myself to the desire to please. I don’t expect people to like my face, my career,  my clothes, my thoughts, my food. I will admit, however, that if I post my thoughts on FB and it doesn’t get a lot of likes,  I get hurt haha. I feel like, “Surely, this has got to be better than someone’s selfie.”  Then I boink myself on the head and remind myself a lot of people appreciate the same stuff that I do and that my genre of creative writing is not for the masses . It’s not about me. I guess photos of one’s gustatory adventures and another’s foray into the world of fashion and all things frilly are infinitely more interesting than my thoughts. Period.

But a lot of us do get affected. We take it personally. “Does no one like me?” And it struck me that the theory of operant conditioning is at play in social media.  That’s why people are so addicted to social media.  Every ‘Like’, comment or share keeps us salivating and wanting for more. I must admit the less frequently I see something valuable in my stream i.e., no likes/few likes, the more I keep checking FB. It’s scary to think of social media this way.  There are times when I catch myself and force myself to just let it go. We can’t base our self-esteem on what other people think or don’t think, like or don’t like. We are not here to entertain (unless you’re an entertainer haha). We are here to learn and love and live and laugh and serve and work with purpose. I think that’s the best thing about social media. We use it to reconnect with long lost friends and family, to share love and laughter over distance, to spread information, to help a cause, to promote our passion and career. Social media is a wonderful tool. Just remember  it’s just a tool; it isn’t you!


Social Learning Theory

Points to ponder:

People learn by observing the behaviors of others and the outcomes of those behaviors.

People can learn through observation alone. (vicarious learning). people can learn from other people’s mistakes.

Cognition plays a role in learning. Awareness and expectations of future reinforcements or punishments can have a major effect on the behaviors that people exhibit.

  • Teaching in the magic middle;
    • Neither bored no frustrated.
    • Students must reach to understand, but where support from a teacher or peer is available.
    • Sometimes the best teacher is a student who has just figured out solution since they are probably functioning in the Zone of Proximal Development.

Peer teaching, cooperative learning strategies


“The great thing about teamwork is that you always have others on your side”- Margaret Carty

The Case of the One-Eyed Monster

One of the best things about being in a distance learning environment is the independence. One of the worst things about being in a distance learning environment is the independence.  I’ve always prided myself in the fact that I am an independent learner. I regard deadlines within the boundaries of the sacredness of the Holy Trinity. I’m an introvert so I don’t crave for social interaction as much as other people. I can stand it for short periods of time, but sustained overstimulation just leaves me drained. I prefer the comforts of solace and uninterrupted silence. So the choice of enrolling in UPOU was a cinch. The fact that I find the idea of commuting to school on a weekend (after a full week of navigating the coma-inducing traffic on the streets of the metro) just torturous in itself was also a factor, but that’s beside the point.

Upon first enrolling in UPOU last term,  I found myself coasting through the modules and the requirements, albeit not without difficulty. It was manageable at best. The end of my first month in UPOU presented me with  a challenge I had not anticipated as the demands of school and a full-time job beckoned and started piling up. Weekends were lost in pursuit of completing requirements and chasing deadlines, and my weekdays were no less hectic as I struggled to keep track of activities at MyPortal. In the thick of the situation,  I had failed to take a quiz in one of my courses. I berated myself for such unacceptable negligence and oversight. And I secretly worried and obsessed over the implications and consequences of such incompetence. I was harsh on myself. I am harsh on myself. I had scarcely recovered from this incident when I realized that my midterms for the same course was looming.  I was so busy stewing over my failings that I almost missed my midterms.  The midterms was set for the day  after, yet I hadn’t even started reviewing for it. I was in trouble, not because I was flunking the said course, or any of my other courses for that matter. The rest of the weeks went by without a hitch, in fact. I was in trouble with myself for committing the grave mistake of allowing myself an oversight. Yes, I have this unbecoming and intolerable habit of picking, poking and scratching a scab long after the wound has healed. As a teacher, that makes me insufferable and overbearing. As a student, that just makes me relentless to a fault. Don’t get me wrong though. On the surface, you’d never realize that this thing was nagging at me and eating me up. I’ve been living with this disorder long enough for me to learn to mask it with an air of sophisticated indifference.

So it was under these conditions that I was responding in one of the discussion forums. The forum was fairly light as we were tasked to reflect on our previous activity, the main objective of which was to find out how well we knew ourselves and the people around us and the importance of such when undertaking a task. One of my classmates had aced the activity and everyone was commending him. I had likewise expressed my admiration for his achievement.  He seemed nice enough, very affable, in fact, if I may say so myself. I guess it was this quality that had caused me to mention in passing my despair over missing a quiz and nearly missing my midterms. He had so politely and humbly shrugged off the praises that were thrown his way. He was juggling school and work just like the rest of us, he said, and it was no easy feat. It happens to the best of us, he told me. “Look at the bright side. You only missed a quiz. You didn’t miss your midterms. Just don’t let it happen again,” he jokingly added.

To this day, I don’t know what it was that made me feel better when he said that. It may be the comfort of being heard and understood. I had casually mentioned the incident to my friends over dinner and stories one night, only to be treated by the chorus “How could you have let that happen?” Well, there goes the sympathy, I thought. It may have been the camaraderie formed by having common  interests or goals. Or it may also be that he embodied the qualities of a good model for social learning: salience, respect and liking, and similarity. It was then I felt that my sense of independence could also prove to be my downfall. It was pure hell to be miserable and alone. It was not at all that revolting to be miserable in the company of others. Learning is a social process, they say. It was then that I was reminded of all those times in high school and college when doing homework and studying for a test was not that much of a drudgery, when study groups inevitable turned to gab fests and tell-all segments straight out of The Buzz.  The simplest interactions could surprise you sometimes for it was at that point that I stopped feeding this insatiable one-eyed monster inside of me.




Models and Mentors in My Life