Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Peacemaker in Me

I understand that a valid and reliable instrument that science uses should be able to measure what it wants to measure at several times resulting the same way. I was dubious about the Enneagram test from the first time I heard of it.

I first heard of it from my mom, who answered the instrument in a retreat she attended. Then, I heard of it again from my PhD classmates, who took the test from one their professors. My doubt arose from my precept that no test could really determine a person's typology when in fact people change and no one person is the same with another, in thinking and behavior.

Curious, I tried taking an online test two years ago. Then I tried it again last night. In the first test, I was a type 9 with combination of type 2. The next test resulted to identify me as type 9, with even tendencies 1, 2 and 7. As to telling something the same way about me, at two tries, for me the instrument is reliable. I am not in the capacity to judge the test validity because I am not an expert in psychology.

The type 9 personality is a peacemaker, the crown of the nine points in the Enneagram, but of course it has drawbacks of complacency and stubbornness. Reading, from the descriptions I could relate to many things that the descriptions tell about me. I could even see my personality at level 1 of type 9. As compared to other types, I the descriptions tell that I have less problems than with other types.

I do like to be at peace with everyone and anyone. I am a good mediator because of my academic background in communication. I believe in the unity of the body, mind and spirit to make a person whole. I have high regard for introspection, reflection and equanimity in everything. I am open to others and other's ideas. I am assertive, but I know where my limitations are. I should feel good with the results, because my type is the same of great men in the world.

However, as it is true in dialectics, there are always two faces of a coin. In defense of the rich ancient narrative of the Enneagram, those promoting the said typology of personality types of course says it best to sell the idea to the public. On the otherside of the fence, critics argue of its dubious presentations of its history and authenticity as to describing the complex human personality.

Realizing these, I understand that my personality is not a product of the 'divine' properties that Enneagram teaches. Rather, it was simply able to describe me fittingly. The test must have been carefully crafted upon several studies and analysis. What is dissonant in my belief is that these personality types have been set by mystical powers, with inconclusive historical background.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Rule of Thirds to Manage Your Time

In photography, there is such a principle called rule of thirds to position the subject in focus but still with the perspectives of having a good background or foreground. The rule of thirds also has applications in budgetting time It ideally works, depending on one's circumstances, goals and priorities, by simply dividing your time into three parts.

In a year, some parts of the world are blessed with four seasons, at least each season goes for three months. In a week we have 168 hours to spend on the many things that we do. Basically there are only three important things that we have to do, sleep, work and the rest is ours for the taking.

An eight-hour sleep is important to energize our body for the day's work. Anyone working or studying will need those good hours of sleep if they want to do well in their jobs or at school. Those homebuddies also need the same amount of rest. Lack of sleep adds to stress and spells alot of trouble that result to poor quality of work and negative emotions that can affect relationships with others.

The other third part of your weekly time can be spent for your work or studies. Well less working hours can really be more productive for any person. But, since 40 hours are usually required as working hours, then you still have 16 hours left for your travel time to and from work or school. In schools, students are not really required to stay there for 40 hours, so the rest of the time can be spent for extra studies, group studies, personal reading or doing homeworks.

The last third part of your weekly time can be budgetted to anything as you please. If family is high value to you, and your working or studying, then the weekends are supposed to be your family time. If you have other activities or interests, then you may spend those remaining 56 hours for them. Say, you have social engagements, organizations, and other commitments you should be able to crunch all of them in this third part of your weekly time.

The ABC principle of setting priorities is also a time management strategy. Here, you set the things that you need to do as to their value or importance and urgency. A's will be your top priority because they are important and urgent. B's will be the next thing you have to do, because they are important although not so urgent. C's are those fun things that you want to do, no deadlines and some may not really be important.

There are is the rule of thirds applied to managing your time. I hope it helps you and works well for you. Remember time is your friend, it can work best for you and never against you if you can manage it well. There is time for everything, but time runs as it is fluid. You can never turn its hands back. If you can not set your priorities and manage your time, the rule of thirds loses its magic and you'll regret not finding the time to do what ever you had to do.

Everything is in your hands not in the clock's.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Time to Begin Anew

What Easter brings is a new beginning with hope that things will be better. To Christians around the world, Easter is that symbolic occasion to celebrate Jesus Christ's resurrection. On this day, we remember the victory Christ had over death and sin. With it comes our hope for the eternal life when we passed this world.

This is the highlight of the Lenten season. In its celebration, we have joy that we can join Christ to where he is, in our afterlife. It calls for change, renewal of faith and perspectives to be born anew. All those entails dying from an old past and coming to a new life from an old self.

At home, there were times that I was broke because I didn't want to touch the money I keep. There were times I did not want to give, because I felt others are not generous in giving. There were times don't want to share anymore, because others are not even grateful. There were times I did not want to help in the housework, because I thought I provide the bread and butter for everyone.

At work, there were times I don't brush up on my lessons anymore, because I thought I knew much of them already. There were times I did not want to know my students more, because I thought I would have them for a short term only. There were times I did not want to help some people, because I thought they should help their selves.

In my studies, there were times I was not serious about them, instead I talk foul of my professors who do not meet my expectations. There were times I thought I knew much and thought better of my self compared to others. There were times that I put so much time on what I study to find my body suffering from lack of sleep and stress. There were times that I was not speaking my mind because I just want to please my professor.

Thank God it's Easter, it reminded me that I have to find my good self like how children enjoy hunting easter eggs. The time I spent away from work and far from school favored some time to see my self and a time to think of what I have become and what I ought to be. I am not perfect, I am sure of that as no one is. But, I take this day like a spring -- a new season of life to begin anew.

Friday, April 22, 2011

... and the last shall be the first

Good Friday. I was assigned to read for the second reading, the part of Peter and Pilate in the Gospel and the Prayers of the faithful. This has been the longest so far of my exposure as Lector in our Parish.

From the start, I only wanted to have my talents, my skills, put into good use for others, in whatever ways. I never wanted to be seated there in the first row, to be seen when I read behind the rostrum, to be privileged being first during the communion.

Once after reading, there was another lector who commended that I read so well. I was bothered, when it flashed to my mind a lesson I learned from our orientation about serving as a choir. For a choir, their aim in service is to make the people sing with them, make them feel God's presence through music. The comment would have not bothered me, if she told me, that God's word came so strong to her heart as I read. With that I knew it was not me at work.

When I chose to serve in the Ministry all I desired was to glorify God in what little I could do. I don't want any privilege extended to me in this world for what I could share.

Today, before the communion, there was the veneration of the cross. While I was thinking to have the people kiss the cross first, the other lector with me whispered that we should go first because there was a very long queue. He even asked the usherettes that favor.

Serving God is serving His people. That means clear to me that I am not in anyway unequal or of a higher stature to any of my fellow believers. But today, we were able to be first on that long queue. Afterwards we sat there and waited for the rest to finish.

Being there first to kiss the cross does not anyway make me any better as the rest of the sinners of this world. I remember an experiment I did some years ago, when I hosted my cousin's wedding reception. It was held just beside their Episcopalian church.

After the marriage rites, I knew people were so hungry, most of them wanted to be sat first near the buffet. I was watching the crowd as they got in. Those who were seated far back where the last to come in.

Being in control of the program and although I knew everyone was hungry, I opted to try that teaching "... and the last shall be the first". I told everyone after the prayer before meals that those tables in the back will be the first to approach the banquet.

It takes some discipline, conscience and consciousness to understand the humility of letting others be the first. Unlike in competitions, life can be really more fun if we know when and how to give each other the chances we all need or wanted. If everybody just wants to be first, and no one will give way to anyone, that would be really chaotic.

I tried the same teaching in fast food chains. I gave chance for others to be first especially if they are old, pregnant, with children. It feels so good. In the MRT, I'd rather have others get inside first, for I know the next train will have fewer passengers, when all the rest have taken their ride.

That I think was a crazy idea, but there is truth in it, that not all those who come first will be first, and not all those who come last will be the last. Our measures in this world are different from that of God's so we find this teaching really crazy, we all want to be first, we all want to be great, no one wants to be last. But Jesus did as he made himself least of us all.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Source Code: Living the last 8 minutes of your life

A dream within a dream, lives lived within a life, deaths within a death. Source Code, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as Captain Stevens, is an action-thriller that a viewer will have to think about again and again. It comes close to the genre of movies like Inception and Shutter Islands.

The story line focuses on a life that Captain Stevens had to live inside the source code. The sci-fi side of the movie is that the source code is a constructed reality that exists only in the last functioning neurons of a dead man's brain connected in wires to the computer.

Through the source code, people on the other side of a reality parabola can communicate with each other and so affect each other's realities. Complicated it may seem, but the concept of the source code is like a time-space, with connection between the past and present, or that of paranormal time-space that links the dead and those alive.

For someone who had consciousness in his subconscious, the movie's storyline can be easily grasped. I mean by some one aware or had experiences of being waken up in a dream within a dream, or mesmerized by a series of recurrent dreams with little variations in its repeats.

The movie does not have grand production designs and the visual effects are but ordinary. What I like so much with it is how it masterfully put a storyline about something occurring in the subconscious of the mind into the conscious. Another thing is the concept of the 8-minutes of memory that is kept within a dying man's brain. Again, this relates to stories of near death experience where a flash of memories appear so vivid to those near death.

The story is fiction of course, but it crafts various beliefs of people about death and life and the realities of changing one's or others' future. People have always been fascinated to the idea of going back in a point of time to change any regretful moment in their present and to ensure that their future will be alright.

The ethical question in the movie's representation of scientific and military advancement is the manipulation of a human being, for the common good, even if it is against some social norms and morals. The movie showed Captain Steven's useless and almost lifeless half body being used in the experiment, giving it a chance to live in a constructed life-reality that only exists in the mind but is connected to change the physical reality.

It was bit boring in the beginning because of the repetitiveness of actions. After the first scene of waking up in another man's body and life-reality, the captain appears in the source code in connection with the scientists in the physical world. This tunes the viewers to immediately know what the source code is all about -- an experimental connection between two realities.

What fascinates me much is that of the concept of the last 8 minutes of one's life. I'd rather have the movie titled "8 minutes" than "Source Code". It lingered in my brain's worms, how that few minutes in one's brain could make a dying person's memory a heaven or a hell of his life to take in his afterlife?

Just consider how the computer, which has similarities with our brain's memory function, could shut down improperly and ruin everything that its memory could take when it turns on again. Bad memories stored in our brain are like bile of toxins, they kill and make our life as hell. But all beautiful memories that we keep give us joy and peace, that is heaven.

This life or the next, this time or the future, the past or the present are all constructed realities, each one is connected to another. As it is true in the movie, we can choose the memories we want in our realities. However, we can only do this if we are conscious of our lives and the time of our dying. We might as well believe the maxim "live this day as if it were your last", or "make every time the last 8 minutes of your life".

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Good Deeds of Faith

One friend of mine, who is an evangelical protestant, had always stressed to me that salvation is not 'through one's works but through God's grace'. But I argue, 'faith without work is dead'.

When one professes that he believes in God through Jesus, he is called a Christian. With that identity he must exercise his faith not for his salvation but for the salvation of others. While it is through that no one can save one's soul except Christ and Him alone.

As I learned from the Church, the passion and death of Jesus, brought salvation to all those who believe in Him. All sins are forgiven through him. As he rose from the dead, his believers must also rise from unbelief, lack of faith and the old sinful ways.

It is a work of faith to reconcile with God, while repentance calls for a 180 degree turn from sin. It is faith at work to be doing 'good' to others, for Jesus said "love one another" as He loved us. Faith then should manifest in the work.

The expressions of our faith and our love of God are meaningful symbols. True, one does not merit salvation from doing good work, for without faith a good deed is nothing. This implies that as we believe in God we ought to, out of our love for him, become vessels of his love for others.

This we can do in so many ways, but yet we do them for ourselves. "Help those who are in need, because some day they may help you in times of your need." Thinking this way is not a manifestation of Christian faith. Consider the Samaritan for his compassion to help someone who would not meet him again or those who would not be able to return the favor.

Christ did not do what he did because he wants something from the people, but because he desires that people live their life in full. A student I had feels so good and at the same time oblivious that he gave a decent looking old woman who speaks English 100 pesos because he didn't have any smaller bills, while she only asked for 80.

What does that 100-peso mean to the old woman, or 1 peso or 5 pesos to a child who risk his life to get on a jeepney to beg for alms? Compare that amount to what you have, surely you had more than that, it feels alright because 'with that small amount' you think you were 'able to help'. To me, that is the worth you give to others who in the eyes of God is equal to you.

When Jesus preached about the dinarius to be given to Ceasar, He emphasized on the woman's act of faith, she gave all that she had. Jesus himself, gave all that he had. If we believe that our life is not our own, and so then it must be given all back to God. There are more meaningful ways to show our faith - the best of which is being one with God in Spirit and in prayer.

When we had a retreat recently, I was not expecting anything for me. But through out I was praying that God blesses and touch the hearts of those who really need. On retreats I would always ask God to meet me. But this time, I was just praying for others. And, he heard my prayers for those I prayed for.

Emptying our cup so we can be filled is an act of faith. Filling others' empty cup is also an act of faith. If a work of faith is an act of love and manifestation of God's love, then it has to be generous, unconditional even to the point that it pains the one giving, for that pain will turn to joy.

Be empty to be filled. You do not need to flagellate your back. You do not need to nail your self on wooden cross. You do not need to walk from one church to another while in between your pilgrimage you gossip and binge. You just need to be still and do what good deeds of faith the Spirit of God will tell you.

To be empty, start out by reconciling your self with those people who have inflicted you pain and those you have hurt so badly. To be empty forego the bitterness in your heart. To be empty let Jesus, in the silence of your heart, take all the thorns and callouses that prevent you from living your life as His follower. Let Jesus live in your hearts forever.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Who needs a college degree?

College, unlike highschool is more tedious to require some seriousness. It is a time for one student to make a crucial choice about the career he wants to take. Critical to this stage is one's adaptation to new realities and a conviction to stand on one's feet. When I entered college, I was not properly guided as to what course would really fit my competencies and interest. There were so many options in my mind: I wanted to be an agricultural engineer, an architect, a doctor of medicine, a political science, a journalist.

Through some elimination, I opted to take mass communication. I could draw well, but I was not so good in math. I excelled in my highschool biology, chemistry and physics, but we didn't have money to buy the books for a pre-med and the med-proper courses. I was well versed in history and the social sciences, but the University that was so convenient for me was not offering political science in fear of rearing activists. Sadly, it didn't have a program in journalism, which was my elective from first year high school.

After college, I tried a six-month stint in the print media as a showbiz magazine editor. But then I found myself teaching college students eventhough I didn't have any education background. Having a college education was to me a training ground for employment. It is really, because in the Philippines there is no way you could get a better paying job without a college degree. It also depends where you graduated from. Job hunting is so mean to prefer graduates from reputable colleges and universities. I was fortunate that I graduated from one prestigious university. College gives an experience of the world, a glimpse to one's future and formation to maturity.

In the university, I learned my rights and stood to fight for them. My eyes were opened to realities in our society and so I advocated social justice in the streets. It honed my writing skills so I became the student publication's editor in chief. It taught me democracy and civil liberties, then the school administration tried us in their own justice system and sued in the city's trial court for unjust vexation. College is where I got try so many things I couldn't dare do in highschool; smoking, drinking, watching girls dance all the way, cutting classes, arguing with teachers, rallying and picketing to name a few. But all those I guess are part of my passage to maturity. With friends I tried these.

College is the begining of a student's adult life. Exploration will be so necessary for anyone in college to have a pre-taste of what life is. The degree one obtains in college is a ticket to employment, even though it may not be so relevant to the job demands or the life one chooses to fulfill afterwards. The picture I clipped here was taken when we were in the second year. The boys there are my barkadas, we were eight in all. In those years, our mindset of our future was short term, we all wanted to get into the media industry as mass commmunication graduates.

On the contrary not all of us got to practice what we studied. Chris is the only successful media practitioner in us, now a voice in the Philippines top AM radio station. Another one who had a career in government communications was Tygs, the bad guy in us who influenced us to smoke and drink. Roy is in applied communications as call center agent. Ikel who started as billing collector is now handling corporate communications for a water distributor.

Others did not really work in the communication field. Betong and Omar are now lawyers, while I teach in college. Our advantage in our chosen careers is that of having the communicative competence. College was an opportunity for me, because eventhough it did not give me background in education, my communication skills are more than adequate to teach communication arts to students. In legal practice, lawyers need to the same competence both orally and in writing.

College is fun and it enables one to build relationships and foster friendship. In my time college served one purpose, to obtain a degree that would qualify us for a job. On the contrary, the college students I deal with do not have that purpose. They go to college not to have a degree for an employment, but so that they can do something to keep them busy. College for them is a social opportunity to meet new people, and learn at the same time.

Well, the students I deal with are well off than any of us back in college. They can survive life without a college education, because they are economically stable and that they can expect a great inheritance of wealth from their parents. This is one fact I have to deal with in order to make the college experience of my students more meaningful to them. As to me, college gave me the knowledge foundation and core skills that I needed to reach where I am now.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Down Time after a Great Term

The last term of this school year will always be so memorable to me for many reasons. Thinking about them gives me a smile on my face with gratitude in my heart and a great sense of achievement.

First, I am filled with joy that my students succeeded to meet my expectations that most of them who did not give up in our class performed excedingly well. I refer to my students in COMSK2X who completed their final requirement of presenting their project proposals and my students in ORALCOM who delivered their final major speech.

I have learned alot from them, and I have enjoyed every moment that they would share their laughter, chat casually with me, tell me their personal stories, share their ideas whether brilliant or bleak, and specially when I hear how they learn from what we are doing.

The most important of all lesson that I learned, is that "all practices and simulations we are doing are but bullshit!" Maybe it is at that moment when things are already easy because they have been prepared well for it, and when in fact the challenge is no longer there at that moment, but out there when they advance to their next subjects and when they leave the school.

That student who asked me why we were doing all those bullshit was really smart to think at the moment, because the real applications of a course's culminating activity does not end in the four courners of the classroom. The bullshit being done in the class is a golden shit later on. Apparently, that student did very well in that bullshit activity, and it makes me proud that he succeeded there.

The other things I am so happy about are those of my personal and professional development. This term ended my probationary period to give me a permanent tenure in the college. Along with this is the recognition of my five years of loyal service. Next is, I am being promoted two steps from my current rank because of my research outputs. Also, I am looking forward to an adminstrative position sometime soon.

I consider those both blessings and rewards for my labor. They did not come so easy. I did not really plan for them, but sometime before I have set my mind to greater things, and here they are unfolding before my eyes. Because of my hardwork and passion to be able to inspire others through whatever I can contribute, I have found my voice and it was heard and recognized.

Finally, what gives my heart joy is that I am done with my coursework for my PhD. One student in our last meeting sincerely told me his hope to call me a doctor sometime this year. That to me is a prophecy that I have to work with destiny driven by faith and passion. Through the training I had in my PhD program in UP, I was able to do several research, some of them are published in journals, archieved in the indeces online, and presented in national and international conferences.

Now I feel I am bound to succeed in whatever I will do. Not because I am more conscious of my capacity, but because I know God is with me along the way. He gave me people who provided me favors, like enrolling me for residency this summer so I can take the comprehensive exam, presenting my project while I attend to my class, talking with me when I space out, finding time to dine out to give me social life, smoking with me when I rot of lazyness to booze me up, and yes lending me money when I am broke.

All those things were incredible almost surreal to happen. It surprises me that they happened. Surely, with my own strength I will not be able to them. The excellent G.P.A. I got to merit me a University Scholar status throughout my PhD program, the paperworks that I could do so efficiently, the lessons that I present to the class, the blogs I write while I am busy with academic research works, while attending a full time teaching job. All are impossible to accomplish, but God put me through.

Now the school year ends, it is down time for me after a great term. Before I plunge into reviewing for my comprehensive examination and preparing for my dissertation, and before I compute my students' final grades, I intend to treat my self into a series of lazy days -- an awesome vacation. Oh, this is happiness! Any great ideas as to how I should spend a month and half of downtime?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Piano Teacher from Romblon

There are stories that are just plain sad, but there are sad stories that inspire others to be stronger in facing life struggles. While life is not a contest many Filipinos join TV show contests in hope of winning a prize that could help them move from their current troubled circumstances.

At 50's, she came from Romblon, a teacher giving piano lessons to children just so she can join Pilipinas Got Talent because she wanted to continue her check up with her doctor. She mustered courage to face a big audience in that auditorium, the Philippines and even the world, with her story that made people cry not because it was sad, but because she was courageous to stand through it.

Four years ago, her parents passed away. Two good people whom in their probably old age and weak state gave her strength to keep on with life. Her siblings have all gone their ways and have stopped keeping in touch with her. She was not given a chance to bear any child. Her husband left her some ten years ago after spending with her 25 years of marriage.

She is left alone by the people whom she would expect to be there with her. Alone with an old piano, but she kept through with few pupils who would pay her 100 pesos for an hour's lesson while sometimes none at all. She was left alone with her music, her passion, left alone with breast cancer that metastasized to affect her lumbar spinal nerve 3.

While her spinal cord is threatened with cancer metastasis, her bosom that had been badly beaten by tumor is strong to get through with her life. She knew her chance was lean. When asked why she joined the talent show, she muttered all she wanted is a new piano, so she can teach her students better and that she can go through with her medication.

What is heart-breaking in her story is not that of her physical condition, but the treatment she got to inflict in her torn heart more pain. The very people, in her family, and the very man who vowed to love her till death part them, left her in that condition. But she was strong, her faith and hope in God did not falter her.

Kris Aquino, who sits as a judge in the talent show, told her she would send her a grand piano. Such is a generosity that lifted the piano teacher's heart. The three judges knew she had poor chances in getting in the finals or winning the coveted prize. To me she was a winner in that moment of coming up there in the stage with her hope and passion for music.

Her life is a sad song, she is a woman needing the sweetest music to be played to her ears, when the pain of cancer strikes her. I would like to hear her story being striked in those piano keys. That would probably move the audience and tell the world how it misses to show compassion on those who need it most.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Increasing Your Self-Worth

Self-worth is an abstract value that you place on your self. Other's may see you differently, or not even worth anything, but do remember that self-worth is how you see yourself and how you add value to it. Because we are social individuals, the way we appraise our worth is greatly influenced by what others see or think about us. How do you exactly increase your self-worth?

This is so difficult when everyone else says something different about you and so demeaning to your self-esteem. There can be those things contradicting to how you exactly see your self. This conflict will definitely affect not only your relationship to others but the way you see your self. Life coaches have several tips to help those, who do not seem to understand their own worth, manage their anxieties and gain more in appraising their worth. Doing so is a process:

First, know that you have value - your existence may be a question to you because of your regret on your circumstance right now. You might be bothered by your knowledge of 'perfection', 'fulfillment' and 'successes' of others. The very fact that you are trying to see your self on other's images that you perceive is not contributing any to your self worth. While life circumstances seem to unfold in a series of coincidences, serendipity, accidents, mishaps or ill-fortunes; your life and you are part of a greater symphony or scheme of things.

In the most pressing times, the worth of a person is more appreciated by doing the littlest but noble things. Between a filthy business tycoon and a dirt-clodded street sweeper, the latter has more value because he keeps the street clean of the garbage the businessman is never interested of collecting. Many of the geniuses in the world have actually failed so many times before they succeeded on doing something the societies accepted as excellent.

Second, see and acknowledge your situation - You are where you are because you have value in that situation, that situation may not be what you have chosen, but you have choice to be in another situation. You may not be able to choose your parents or your siblings, but as you are part of that family, you have a pre-existing value in that relationship. This value comes in how you fulfill expected roles and how you demonstrate valued norms in that relationship. Denying your situation because you do not want to be identified with it is a denial of your self.

Where you find your self now is where your value is measured and expected to be utilized to contribute to every member of that relationship. Everyone will have to find him self in a different situations which expect different things. As you identify your self with the situation, you have to adapt to it as you prove your worth in meeting the expectations exacted from what you can do. Your worth, wherever you are, will be appreciated in what you can contribute to its betterment.

Third, you can do more than what you can think of - It is defeating to be merely compliant without exceeding the expectations. Beating the deadline, doing jobs routinely, strictly complying to requirements and the like are but evidences of what you can do as normally as you can. But what is normal is just average, and what is average is often mediocre. Because you do not find self-gratification and fulfillment in doing the ordinary, you do not find what ever your doing worthy to affect your self-worth.

While you acknowledge your situation, you also have to understand that you are capable of going beyond what you can ordinarily do. You are capable of learning to do things more strategically and you have the potentials to think creatively and so add a premium to whatever you can do. When given deadlines, you can actually turn your work in advance, when asked to yield an output of 10% you can deliver, twice three times or more of that.

Fourth, be an influence to others and understand their influence in you - Our self-concept or how we see our selves are permeable in its nature. The human psyche is as acqueous as we are changed in our interactions and communication with other people. To withstand the external influence of others on you, you have to be stronger to influence them instead. You need to find your voice and let your voice be heard as you consider to listen to others' voices. Only with that distinct voice that you can be identified and so be listened at.

It is most appreciated that you can be emphatic, eager to learn from others' views and be critical of the ideas that you share. You should be able to tell what you think in ways that will not dishearten anyone but instead affirm them. You would need to know how others think, decide and behave, so you would know how to deal with them appropriately. To influence others does not mean that you should be stricken with egotism; instead you should be able to share something that others will find valuable and life-changing.

Lastly, believe and become - Believing that you have worth and that you can do something is not just a wishful thinking or a hope that someone can grant you. To believe that you are valuable means to show that you are worthy and that you can deliver beyond other's expectations. Neither should you brag about how you see your self and what you have done. Other people will have to speak of that for you.

To become a person of value, you have to begin by believing that you are valuable and then you need to improve by yourself. You have to be in control of your life as you would with your emotions, your thoughts and your behavior. Each day that you should wake up and face your daily life, you have to be taking every day a challenge for you to be better.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Taking up Graduate Studies?

Whenever someone asks me whether it is worth to take up graduate studies my answer is always "it depends".

It is graduation season. There are probably some of those graduates, particularly those who excelled academically to be considering taking up a master's degree, and those who finished their master's, a doctoral degree. There are also those students who did not really excel in the college academics thinking of pursuing a graduate degree to add a feather on their cap.

BUT, that's all caps, graduate school is not for everyone. But, again it depends on the same factors that a student intending to pursue graduate studies should really be thinking over. Gloss over these points to check your self if you are really up to it:

1. Do you have a career track in mind where advance knowledge will be required, more than what a college education could provide?

2. Do you have a specific course of interest in which you are really good at and you are truly willing to learn more about?

3. Do you have a particular school (not a diploma mill) where you would be accepted for the course that you intend to take?

4. Do you have the resources (i.e. money, time, support, transportation, knowledge sources) that will enable you to complete graduate studies?

5. Do you have the skills to grasp vast knowledge crunched in so little time, and the savvy to read beyond the required readings or what you're professor have read so far?

6. Do you have the patience to deal with intolerable professors who think they know everything and you don't until they drift away and ask you a question you will have to think of for days?

7. Do you have the social skills to cope with the varying traits of your possible classmates, who would argue better than you, or just stare at you when you extrapolate on things they did not learn of, or a group mate who loves free rides in your collaborative works?

8. Do you enjoy learning on your own because you want your points or arguments supported with empirical knowledge so that you can contribute to the existing knowledge in the world?

9. Do you believe that there are truths, and several sides and angles to a truth you might be needing to debunk or question later on?

10. Is it merely the degree that you want or the learning experience that goes with pursuing the degree?

When I took my Masters in Arts, we were more than twenty, only four in batch had really completed the degree. When I took my MBA we were 18, none finished on the time allotted for us to complete, though I manage to complete all academic works. When enrolled for my PhD, there were 10 of us who applied for the program, five got in, only two of us taking the comprehensive exam soon, two got out of the program, one needs three semesters more to complete the course requirement.

In a bachelor's degree, a student learns concepts. In a master degree the learner tests concepts of the theories and principles that were learned in college. In obtaining a PhD degree, the learner to become a philosopher must argue his way to contribute a concept to the existing body of human knowledge.

It depends where one takes his degree from. My training in the PhD in Communication program of the University of the Philippines did not only enable me to become a researcher, as we have to write a full research equivalent to that of a college or master's thesis every term in every course. Likewise, it opened my nut head to a wide horizon of the field and multiple disciplines that converge in understanding the phenomenon of communication. Further, the learning experience granted me expertise in understanding the context and intricacies of my profession.

I finished my Master's coursework in two years, but it took me seven years to finally bring to my field a knowledge from my labor and thinking. It took me four trimesters to finish the coursework for my supposed MBA degree, which I started the same time I was in my last year of my MA. I completed my PhD course work in two years and a semester. My goal is to pass my dissertation within the next school year. I am not in a hurry, I just don't want to waste time and spend more over time. Don't ask me about the grades, because you'll be in disbelief to brand me merely air headed. But I managed an excellent standing between 1.0 to 1.25, in all those.

Graduate studies is not for everyone. I am not through with it yet, but I have overcome so far. It is something one needs to plan about, really think about, aspire for perhaps, but more importantly work hard for. Taking graduate studies is a choice that goes with a commitment, sleepless nights, stressful days, gruelling paper works, mountain high readings. But it is all worth it, if you have it there inside you what is required for it.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Passing the Buck

There is an existing assumption in some teachers that students are like buckets to be filled by mere transmission of knowledge. Another assumption is that students can be passed on like a buck to the next level or another teacher even without actually meeting the qualifications to be advanced anyway. Teachers will find it really hard and may as often fail, with those streams of thought guiding their professional practice.

First, students are not buckets to be filled to the brim. They are learners who come to school for several reasons, but ultimately needing the help of a mature adult to train them for life. As learners, they have unique abilities to process knowledge. For a student to learn, he needs to be equipped with the reason, explanation, example, practice and instructions that would enable him to demonstrate the expected change in behavior.

I have never done well in Algebra, although I excelled in Trigonometry, Geometry and Statistics. Until now I could not solve problems about fractions. My teachers should know these of course, but there was no remidation after all. This is my waterloo, that's why I am in the field of communication - a justification founded on the left-right brain divide.

The teacher ought to discover how students do and in what best ways work for them. Teachers are not supposed to process knowledge for the learners and hand them knowledge as if it is surely absorbed by mere verbal transfer. They have to create the experiences where students can discover that knowledge and be motivated to gain more.

Even though I could articulately solve simple equations, I could not go as far when it becomes complicated. No wonder, my high school teacher got me join a math contest, and I still passed my Algebra in College. If my teachers had intervened, and really got to the root of my weaknesses in Mathematics, I knew I could have advanced.

I would have appreciated that my teachers had informed me of why I was having difficulty in understanding how an equation operates. If only they could translate their quantitative thinking in a fashion my visual and linguistic mind would understand. I knew I was highly logical, but my numerical skill was insufficiently nurtured.

Second, there are learning (not teaching) goals that a teacher should enable the students to meet. Only when they are met, that a teacher has succeeded. These goals are translated into objectives that meet the learning needs of students. Hence, they are revised as needed to be more significant for the learners. A teacher's goal is never to pass the student like a buck to another teacher, because there is nothing anymore that can be done.

Now that I am a teacher, I still meet students who don't even know how to conjugate the verb "write" in its progressive form. They spell it with a double "t" as in WRITTING. This lesson is part of the basic education curriculum, specifically in the primary years of a child's schooling.

If this error occur as they get into college, one thing is for sure. That, their teacher in their basic education had overlooked this mistake, and so the buck is passed to their college English teacher. As I noticed this error, I would immediately highlight that part in a student's work, flash the correct spelling on screen or write it on the board.

If a student commit a spelling error on a basic word, how then can we expect them to distinguish the difference between fragments and the sense of a complete sentence? Passing the buck in teaching to the succeeding teachers do not help the learner. It is out of convinience and the expediency of handling the teaching load that irresponsible teachers would opt for this.

If teaching has to be made more meaningful for the students, "right there and then" a teacher should be able to guide a learner into what is "right". Rightness in English Language instruction would mean observing the Langauge Standards, with a capital "S", not just the teacher's standard.