I spent the best of my times teaching, driven by different passions in setting my objectives.
I accepted Helen Keller’s dictum: “Education has as its object the formation of the character.”
Teaching is a commitment that has shaped and defined my life.
After trying my hand in advertising, I opted to try the academe.
With my background in philosophy and letters, I started my teaching career in a high school classroom at a Catholic university. Young learners were entrusted to me to help them discover life in its abundance and make each of them a promising child of God. To educate them was to subject each one to the proper formation of character.
But transformation had to start with me. Good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher who must be emotionally and academically prepared, and can set a good example of the profession he is representing.
I am guided by the belief that the building of character is not only confined within a classroom or a school but wherever one interacts with others. Change becomes an integral part of his/her being.
At a workshop I once attended, years after leaving high school teaching and moving to college instruction, the president of the religious university shared an anecdote lionizing the teacher as a professional, a loving parent, a religious and social worker, a coach who helps solve problems, a healer of the spirit and a living model everywhere he goes.
Walking the talk
All of a sudden, the speaker pointed to me as a teacher who “walks his talk.”
To him, caring for a family was the same as dealing with students and raising them to understand the true meaning of life. He made inferences from the way I was raising my family. Without me knowing it, I was being measured.
I cannot imagine how deep a mark I must have made when he was my student some years back.
For my professional advancement and to strengthen the academic empowerment of my students, I took two master’s degrees—in literature and education. Then, I got a doctorate in education, major in educational management. One of my professors was the former top student in a class I had taught.
How honorable it is to be a teacher! It earns respect, dignity and recognition. It carries a tremendous opportunity for widening one’s personal and professional world.
In college mentoring, e-learning is a big help in disseminating information and lessons to my students. An extension of my interest is to open my Facebook account for social communication.
Although it was not my intention to renew old academic relationships and contacts, birthday greetings were sent to my account by more than a hundred well-wishers who were my students decades ago. Many of them are now based in foreign lands with their families.
One greeter wanted to be sure it was really me and asked: “Were you my teacher in English, then a young man, a PWD (person with disability) using a crutch? You know, you were our idol!”
So they remembered!
And where are the others who left some living moments for me to cherish?
Some of them tried to pursue writing careers because of their experience in campus journalism. Many of them I invited to teach. Some responded to the call and are now in the field and became my students pursuing master’s degrees in graduate school.
Several found juicy assignments both in the public and private sectors. I feel that their success is my accomplishment, too.
Why have I remained in teaching? I left school life for a while and tried the corporate world, where I did some traveling. But after some years, I went back to my old love. I got another teaching job and became part of the administration.
“Whatever you do, love it.” I accept this premise. I am aware that the true meaning of love is the kind of life I will leave behind when I am gone. It is my legacy.
It is said destiny is a matter of chance. But I say it is a matter of choice. I want to borrow this axiom: “If, through a person, a little more love and goodness have come to this world, then that person’s life has had meaning.”
(Teofredo Silva-Tisbe is from Lipa City. Now 70 years old, he is semi-retired but teaching a few subjects at an international school. A PWD who uses a wheelchair, he has been teaching for 46 years.)