Thirteen Blogs in a Row

The biggest challenge for me as a “teacher” is how to teach.


What an inane statement you may say. If you can’t teach, then you’re not a teacher. True.

In which case, most of my teachers and other teachers in classrooms everywhere are not teachers. They lecture, they preach, they talk about their experiences, they give quizzes and assignments, they conduct workshops, they echo whatever textbook is there, and they spew all the ideas from books they’ve read, but—they don’t teach.

I take responsibility for the preceding paragraph. But it came only after a long reflection on my own plight as a teacher, and after talking to my outstanding students (majoring in Marketing, or Advertising, or International Business) about what they expected from their teachers.

To clinch the issue, I looked up “teach” and the meanings are very telling: to show how; to impart skills and knowledge.I once had a teacher who gave us a list of books to read on the first day of class. In succeeding sessions, we were either given a written exam or were made to report on what we read. He taught us how to do things on our own. But he, unfortunately, didn’t show us how, neither did he impart his skills or knowledge.

Many teachers lecture for hours. They care not about gauging how much a student has absorbed.

Having spent most of my working life in the corporate world, I have imbibed the value of communication. It’s what sells ideas. It emanates from a sender to the receiver, and back to the sender. If the cycle is not complete, no learning takes place.

This is what I carry close to my heart in my part-time teaching.

So may we take a look at the following statement again? The biggest challenge for me as a “teacher” is to teach. It isn’t inane, it’s a struggle.

The language of the youth today is technology. They’re into gadgets—mobile phones, i-pods, PDAs, internet, cameras, and video games. More are coming. I decided to use their language to get their attention.

In my Business English class, I found out on day one that writing formal letters and memos, staples in my time, is not as revered as “cut and paste.” There were a few gallant tries from some students, but the rest was dismal.

So I asked all 13 of them to blog. Yes, blog!

The task was for each one to create his blogsite where he can freely write his thoughts on a given topic. They are online most of their waking hours anyway (we are the world’s biggest Friendster user), so why not practice writing in blogosphere? Too much extra work for me, having to visit and post a comment in all 13 blogger.com sites, but it is a relevant option.

I am appalled by what has become of grammar, capitalization, and punctuation. The ellipse has never been more abused. Paragraphs have disappeared. There is utter disregard for spelling. Choice of words is haphazard. Fragments have replaced sentences. And the pronoun “I” is in lower case!

But as days wear on, each post is becoming more organized, more interesting, more lyrical even, and better written. Writing, indeed, can only be taught through writing, in a medium one enjoys.

Also on day one, I asked them to always bring a small dictionary (others prefer laptops). Whenever there is an argument about a word and its usage, we look them up together. It’s fun and funny, ideas are tossed like beach balls. Though I use slides for the day’s topics (Power Point), which models lessons on presentations, our chairs are often arranged in a circle for better communication.

As the final exams—moderated in our affiliate school in the UK—near, I hope I have prepared my students for the biggest hurdle of their lives this term; and for the workplace eventually. In this post-modern era, Business English seems to have no appeal to “techno-addictos,” but if taught in their language, it can be appreciated.

Someday, when they are conferred with degrees, I pray that one of their ammunition shall be what they learned from this writer who blogs on grace and wants to earn her title, “teacher.”


Anonymous said...

So your a teacher a engish teacher at that. I wonder if you would write a life book and how much would you charge me? Check me out?


Grace D. Chong said...

Thanks for visiting. I am honored that you are even considering me to write a life book. Will email you separately. I couldn't do so earlier because my internet connection has been so bad lately.