Volume 17: National Teachers' Month Edition

A New Generation of Educators

  IN THIS ISSUE  

Growing up in a big family and taking care of her younger cousins, nieces and nephew is what first gave 23 year-old Cleo Thea Ong the idea to become a teacher. With the older members of her family constantly telling her how good she is at handling kids and how she would make a great teacher, Ong eventually went on to take up education in college. She now teaches Grade 5 English in St. Therese Educational Foundation of Tacloban Inc.

Junior high school teacher Sarah Angela Gacutan, however, saw the beauty in teaching after being exposed to catechism in a public school in her community.

“I realized that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Gacutan shares. At 23, she teaches English, Creative Nonfiction, and Media and Information Literacy classes at Canossa School in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

Ong and Gacutan are among a number of young bright minds who have chosen to enter the teaching profession in the hopes of making a difference in the lives of millions of learners nationwide. Armed with idealism, drive, and the technical skills to deal with 21st century education, this new set of teachers provides a fresh take and perspective that is slowly but surely changing the education landscape.

Generational differences

 

With a younger batch of teachers slowly populating the Philippine education workforce, it is inevitable that differences would emerge when it comes to behavior and teaching styles.

 

At only 23 years old, Lerma De Domingo has gone from being part of the Elementary faculty to teaching in the College Department of Notre Dame of Dadiangas University. With just a few years of experience, she has observed key changes in the teaching and learning process.

 

“Before, teaching requires a lot of time discussing contents from the book in front of the students. While for the students, they also spend a lot of time browsing their books or going to the library to look for books regarding their lesson,” De Domingo shares. “However, in the present, most information is already available on the internet. It may sound cliché but information nowadays is already at the tip of our fingers. Technology is currently the primary source of information.

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Armed with idealism, drive, and 21st century skills, this new set of young teachers provides a fresh take that is slowly but surely changing the education landscape.
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Twenty-one year-old Mark Cedrick Sihiyon, a multi-grade level Science teacher from John Paul Benedict School of Meycauayan Inc thinks that a major difference is the move from a teacher-centric to a more student-centric teaching and learning method.

 

“Education nowadays is now centered on students,” says Sihiyon. “Their engagement in the discussion plays an important role in their learning acquisition.”

 

Various thinkpieces over the last few years have alluded to the widening generation gap between educators and learners. Teachers who have gotten used to the traditional classroom setup have had to make adjustments to accommodate and adapt to changes in technology, especially when it comes to teaching this new generation of students who have been tagged as digital natives. This has led to calls for an increase of younger teachers to join the pool, postulating that young teachers would be able to better handle this set of technologically adept learners.

 

Attracting young minds to the profession

 

In 2019, World Teachers’ Day was celebrated with the theme “Young Teachers: The Future of the Profession”. In its rationale, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) stated that there has been a decline in public perception and respect for the teaching profession, and that there is a “need to draw in and retain a new generation of dedicated educators”.

 

“With large percentages of teachers likely to retire from practice in the coming decade, a major concern is that not enough young candidates are coming in to the profession to replace them,” UNESCO explains.

 

In the 2019 Education at a Glance report of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), it was found that young teachers, defined as those under 30 years old, make up only 25% of the teaching workforce across all levels of education in OECD surveyed countries, with a large share of teachers being aged 50 and over.

 

Over the years, there have been multiple efforts to bring in the younger generation to the teaching profession. In 2014, a bill lowering the compulsory retirement age of teachers was filed to “make way for a younger and more energetic teaching workforce”. The Department of Education (DepEd) also has recruitment programs for public school teachers.

 

There are also organizations that offer scholarships specifically for those who want to take up an education course in college. Ong, Gacutan, De Domingo, and Sihiyon were all beneficiaries of the Diwa-CEAP 30&75 Education Scholarship Program, and all finished their BS Education courses in the First Asia Institute of Technology and Humanities (FAITH).

Teaching as a calling

 

No matter the generation, the purpose that comes with being a teacher remains the same.

 

“Becoming a teacher is not the easiest job in the world,” Sihiyon says. “It is rather the most crucial and delicate job among all. It takes passion, empathy, care, love, understanding, and emotional stability for you to become an effective teacher.”

 

Gacutan and De Domingo both acknowledge that the best part of teaching is the chance to impact the lives of their students.

 

“Nothing can ever give me this kind of fulfillment and joy,” Gacutan shares.

 

Ong recognizes the unique position of her batch of teachers, as not only are they faced with teaching a generation of learners that have grown up in the digital world, they are also tasked to help the older generation cope with the current ways of teaching and learning.

 

“I realized that our generation of teachers, one who experienced both what it is like to wipe chalk from our hands from actually writing on the board, as well as the convenience of connecting a cord to our laptops to project our presentations, are bridges of the past to the future,” shares Ong. “I hope that my generation of teachers realize this as well, and try their best to be patient with not only their students but also their colleagues, because we’re all just doing the best we can.”

A journal for Filipino educators who strive to become excellent at what they do