Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Support Systems and Educational Achievement

Last year, I conducted a study on the role of Hiya in the communication anxiety of high-risks and at risks college students. It included a very small sample of informants from various colleges in Manila, however, the qualitative nature of the research provided me rich and thick descriptions on the causes, implications of communication anxiety as influenced by the the support that they receive from others. This afternoon, I had a great time discussing this with an interested MA student, who also happens to be my colleague.

Yet, I realized that support, in contrast with the rejection, embarrassment, shameful conditions or demeaning experiences that students have had, is a vital component that could alleviate one's low self esteem. The study led me to understand that those students included in the sample do not really have high-anxiety, but only have low-confidence. Here, anxiety is not equated to having lack of confidence or the absence of it, but merely having a low level of anxiety. If these students have been given adequate support, not really too much of it to spoil them, they could have developed their needed confidence or higher level of confidence to be communicating effectively with others.

Support begins in the family and this is reinforced in the schools. A child's esteem is developed through the social interactions that they have engaged with. But this esteem can be violated or averred by some incidences associated to shame. In the family, acceptance, support, genuine concern and affection are vital to affect one's self-esteem. There were students who reported of being hated, unwanted by their siblings or parents, or vice versa feeling ashamed of them. They scored to have low to moderate anxieities in approaching various contexts of communication.

On a personal note, I myself have a plenty of reasons to be anxious, to stay away from people, to shut my doors from interaction, to render myself in isolation. My family was poor, who can not send me to school, I did not have a normal set of teeth that was a reason why I was bullied as a skid. I looked like a lizard because I was so thin. I didn't have the best clothes, shoes or school paraphernalias. When I was a teenager, I was bullied because of my feminine tendencies. But I grew up to be a well-esteemed man.

Many of the embarrassing experiences that the students haved had remain in their memory and are reified to affect their commuinicative behavior in the classroom or in their school. Thus, they inhibit themselves from speaking out their ideas, particularly when using English, because they know they are not so good about it, and that they associate the feeling of embarassment that they may get to the previous shameful incidences they have had.Teachers and students alike are contributors to a student's embarassment.

I didn't get much encouragement from my teachers, but I looked at their cynicism to my potential as great challenges to make me better. I was blacklisted to my teachers at several times, from my elementary days and in my college years, for many unacceptable and invalid preconceived ideas or impressions that they have had about me. Fortunately I was not defeated by the maltreatment I got from my "mentors".

Communication is essential to the learning process. Students who inhibit their selves from communicating openly, because of their debilitating fears or anxieties, can never get much of the interactions going on in thier learning years. The more, they will be cajoled and bullied, the more they will be anxious. In this case, teachers have an important role in affirming the students, and in averting such situations to happen.

I do not owe, who I am now to myself alone. Neither do I credit destiny for what I have become. I owe many people for my achievements, most of them are the beautious women in my life, my mom, my sisters, my aunt. They have all affirmed me that I can make a great difference in my life and in others' life. They were there through all the tough times that could simply break me down into ruins. They were my support systems.

Support systems are means that go well with the intent of affirming students. This is not to condition their minds and behavior, but rather bring them into the experience of active learning wherein they can truly benefit. My pervent prayer is that I get to become a supportive mentor to inspire my students to achieve their potentials and to transform into the best of who they can be.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Cultural Deconstruction and Animal Rights

March 28, 2010, I had a chance to go with some colleagues to the famed Zoobic Safari. I was thrilled by the fact that I could ride a jeep inside a tigers' pen and have those tigers jump on the jeep or shake us to fear. But no, nothing happened. At that time in the afternoon, the tigers were tired, lazy and fed up with the many anticipating spectators. It was no thrill neither exciting.

The zoobic safari boasts of a well kept zoo and trained animals. But to my dismay, I found the animals in that zoo in a pathetic situation. Particularly, some animals that the zoo have trained and which they parade, during the weekends. One there was this monkey that demonstrated skills in basketball. The monkey could actually dunk a ball into the goal. This monkey, is held by nylon cord, without a leash on its neck. As the monkey dunks and tumbles, the rope would tighten and wound around the monkey's limbs. Such a show exhibits how animals are treated in that zoo.

Then there goes this parade of albino carabaos. Several of them, painted with zebra stripes, giraffe prints, cow dots etc. I don't find such exhibition a work of art, but rather a deconstruction of what it means to be naturally albino. Such synthetic representation could confuse children who are there watching. It could not be a learning experience for them. Instead, subliminally it gives the idea that people can do anything with nature or its creatures.

Worst of all, the highlight of that zoobic safari trip is that animal parade. But who is there in the animal parade. Just right after the mascots' dance number, here comes a group of aetas in their youth to give a cultural dance number. The announcer said "these are our aeata brothers and sisters who are stewards of nature, to perform their traditional dance". But it was all a cultural deconstruction.

On two grounds i found such presentation culturally demeaning and humiliating for the Filipinos, moreso for our indegenous brothers. First, Aetas are mountain people of north, and that their music, rites and rituals were not accurately presented. The song in which they danced was a muslim inspired song. The aetas are not fire eaters or fire throwers who drinks kerosene and spit them out. The aetas do not wear malongs, neither do they have prince and princesses in their village. It was such a misrepresented representation. A totally disastrous deconstruction of what is genuinely beatiful about the aeata culture. Second, those who paraded the animals were the aetas, pushing the dressed carts and well-clodded animals. If aetas were to be correctly represented as stewards of nature's creatures, then they should have not been presented as "slaves" in a zoo. The representation does not appeal to me as if they are zoo keepers, it comes to strong to me that are there to do the meanest job of pushing an animal cart.

That show was dubbed as animal parade. Then why are the aetas there? They are not animals. What dignity does that show or parade offer for our aeta brothers and sisters. I understand that they earn from that. Does that money compensate to lose their dignity?

I could only watch the faces of these young aetas as they danced. There was no joy during their performance. What I could feel was pity, that we are losing the cultural identity of our roots. As if they have sold their dignity to some little amount of money, because we have never really helped them to make thier culture richer and their home a better place to live in.

It could have been better to have the zookepers parade the animals. I would have been pleased to see how aetas are able to train animals. It would have been more dignifying to see the aetas perform what is authentically indeginous.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Zezty Zambales

Zambales is not an island province, but there are several islets that highlights the scenery. Such are wonderful backdrops for a picture. Going to Zambales takes four to four and half hours drive.Its 30 minutes away from Subic, Olongapo City.

The province is fenced by rough rocky chocolate mountain ranges. By the sea, these mountains are held by rock formations that have probably been there even before pre-history. There are several nice things to do in Zambales.

A boat ride could take you to a protected cove. Going there, you'll be welcomed by the cool breeze that a reserved Agoho forest can offer. These trees look like pine trees, but they aren't they are agoho trees, endemic to the province. Temperature drops to several degrees, in the cove. White sandy beaches will greet you and clear savannah will enchant you to spend more time there.

When you go there by sunrise, the rays of light that get through the leaves and branches of the Agoho trees will simply amaze you. The clear blue water is also enticing. Going back to your resort, you should not miss to drop by the Capones island and bathe in its clear water.

Zambales is zimply zesty.