In recent events…

27 06 2009

Yesterday, our Educ110 class met for the first time. Entitled The Teaching Profession, the teacher had us watch a teacher movie – Freedom Writers featuring a shockingly-thin Hillary Swank and, if I’m not mistaken, a pre-Gray’s Anatomy Patrick Dempsey (who I better remember from the late-90’s film With Honors) – but not before making us give answers to a few questions:

  1. Why do you want to be a teacher?
  2. What do you think the average citizen thinks of our school today?
  3. How important do you believe teachers are to our society? Why?
  4. What are the characteristics of the best teachers you’ve ever had?
  5. How would you rate Filipino secondary teachers as a group?

The first question is asked endlessly in the College of Education, regardless of the subject. It’s cliché, I admit, and the answer is often cliché-er (“it’s a noble profession”, “to help the country”, blah-blah-blah”), unfortunately. Not wishing to become a statistical cliché myself, yet wanting to be honest, I opted for this answer: “I derive a great deal of personal pleasure and professional satisfaction from teaching – I cannot, for the life of me, imagine myself doing anything else.”

And I mean that, in case any of you are wondering.

After the movie, she gave us another set of questions to answer:

  1. Do you still want to be a teacher?
  2. Do you think you have the talent necessary to become a good teacher?
  3. Are you willing to learn the necessary skills required of a good teacher?

In a fit of what some people here might call “suffocating hubris”  (I prefer to call it “overwhelming passion”), I just wrote down “yes” to every question (my handwriting got bigger with every “yes”), turned in my paper, and went home.

Teaching: it’s what I do.


I auditioned for the university band this morning – the bulk of their ranks were graduating, so they needed “fresh meat”. I was probably past my expiration date, since I was the only fellow who showed up who was…well…old (I graduated from college five years ago. All the other auditionees were still within their first three years of college.)

I’ve done quite a bit of reading about auditions, since the orchestral life (in the States, at least) is rife with them, and they are taken very, very seriously (if you fail to win one, at some point, you will likely have to trade in your instrument – which you’ve been studying for more than a decade – for something else…like an office cubicle).

Well, there I was, surrounded by (for lack of a better term) kids who, if they were not showing-off to one another how well they could cop the latest tune from Paramore (AAUUGGHHH! EMO!!! RUN!!!), were busy worrying about how the next arrival would ruin their chances of winning a slot. Funny – I was in the exact same position some six years ago when I auditioned for conservatory.

The outgoing members of the band lined the well-equipped room and watched as their “leader” made me play the violin, then the bongos and the congas, then the bass guitar.

At this point, kindly postpone judgement and just let me be honest instead of PC: while the guy plays a mean guitar, I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was a college washout. I can’t explain it, but it was just there. Like ROTC officer-alumni who show-up on training days because that’s the only place where they could get a modicum of respect, this guy seemed to be there because…well…it was the only place where he could get a modicum of respect.

I could be wrong about the fellow, but that’s how it felt at the time. If I’m wrong, I would like to apologize in advance. If I’m right, well…it doesn’t matter anyway.

I bring this up because (and my students can attest to this) while I love music, and making music, and teaching music, I can’t see sacrificing one’s future for the apparent glamor of the stage (which is never as glamorous as MTV would like you to believe) as a profitable exchange. Get that college degree, make sure you’re qualified to take on a job that provides a steady, albeit modest, income, and then go, be a rockstar…if you can. Beware: few people make it…and most of them fizzle out after their first album.

I say this having witnessed numerous examples of skilled musicians who have grown old in “the business”, yet lead lives that border on pathetic. I just don’t believe music was meant for that.

But anyway. That’s my rant. Before I find myself eating my own words, I shall find something more productive to do.




One response

7 08 2009
jude buot

I happen to love the film “Freedom Writers.” It moved me. And inspired me. But honestly, to be patient to students who are literally wild is so difficult. I applaud you for being dedicated and passionate about teaching. Being a teacher for 4 years, I know it’s really a noble and fulfilling job but it’s kinda depressing sometimes. I really wish to talk to people like you more often so that I myself would feel inspired about teaching again.

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