Ivan Illich, a known philosopher and Roman Catholic priest, used the quote “Carry a candle in the dark, be a candle in the dark, know that you’re a flame in the dark” in his book, entitled “Deschooling Society.” In the quote, the candle serves as a metaphor for teachers, representing hope for society and corresponding with a favorite cliché, “teachers are the molders of all profession.”
Educators are tasked with sculpting the nation’s most exceptional leaders and encouraging them to leap from the classroom, which serves as a cocoon of responsibility.
Pedagogy refers to the method and practice of teaching, primarily as an academic subject or theoretical concept. Amid the often used educational jargon, pedagogy is hope itself because education, first and foremost, is the foundation of belief; what educators teach serves as a light, offering their students a path to take. In the same way a young Jose Rizal learned to read and write thanks to guidance from his mother shows successful people are in debt to their respective teachers.
Despite their efforts, however, Filipinos often fail to recognize the contributions of their profession. Students perceive teachers as tools for learning; the kind of objectification that reduces teachers to a mere commodity.
In addition, this type of treatment does not remain within the classroom. Recently, the government stripped the 2019 Department of Education (DepEd) budget from P580.6 billion to P528.8 billion, an 8.9 percent reduction. Such actions turn a blind-eye to the needs of the education sector, depriving educators of professional development, such as quality trainings and seminars.
Aside from budget cuts, teachers face a heavy workload, which has resulted in recent suicides, along with others being sent to the hospital. In some cases, overly demanding supervisors and principals are the cause, making demands for the sake of performance-based bonuses.
Newly-hired teachers are particularly susceptible as the burden is often passed on to them as if it were some form of initiation rite. This kind of acid test causes a crisis as it can cause young educators to lose interest in the field or leave then unmotivated.
Why our teachers can’t teach
With the abolishment of non-teaching elements, educators have shifted to take on managerial and clerical responsibilities. In some rural areas, teachers are also operating as nurse, guidance counselor, and janitor. The demands by DepEd have forced teachers to accept multiple duties, making it difficult to teach properly. Aside from the classroom, many also have familial duties as well.
Such liability diminishes a teacher’s ability to be a “beacon of hope.” As institutional demands bastardize a noble profession, DepEd administrators are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. Administrative personnel are enjoying lives as public officials, while teachers are subject to the weight of the educational sector and are often blamed when there are issued with education.
How does one project hope when they are curtailed by their own institution? It’s ironic how teachers can inspire their students while being victims of injustice. The pitfalls of treating teachers as workers, consumers, and mere human beings have seriously negative ramifications on the education system, resulting in widespread problems for both educators and students.
The ordeal teachers find themselves in makes the pedagogy of hope nothing but a fantasy. As with the metaphor of teachers being a candle in the dark, how can they illuminate a radiant light if the holder is constantly blowing out the flame?/WDJ