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[OPINION] Glorified but ignored: How to truly honor our teachers

Sonia Tomalabcad

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[OPINION] Glorified but ignored: How to truly honor our teachers
Honoring teachers must not be limited to celebrating them once a year or giving them discounts and tributes

You are a teacher. 

Your profession is celebrated worldwide. You touch generations by selflessly producing seeds of wisdom. You don’t know where your seeds will blossom, but you still drop everything to nurture them for whatever purpose they may serve. You are even hailed as having the “noblest profession of them all.”

Everyone crowns you as “noble” because of your social responsibilities, such as being catalysts for change and nurturers of young minds in a bid to improve the future. 

You are the “unsung hero” for your wholehearted willingness to set aside greener pastures, opting instead for a legacy of imparting knowledge and influencing people’s lives. 

For you, there are enough reasons to make teaching not just a responsibility but a moral duty. Though you lack appreciation from others, you still handle diverse and numerous classes, continuous professional development, administrative duties, academic publications, and more.

Though you are aware that being a teacher might not be the biggest weapon to combat our nation’s economic crisis, you still hold on to the hope of delivering social mobility through education, gradual as it may be. And you believe this is possible by practicing democracy in teaching. 

As an educator, you promote democracy in the classroom. The big question is, as a teacher, are you really included in this so-called “democracy,” so as to improve the educational system? Is your voice really being heard?

In the 21st century, teachers are required to be more progressive in delivering lessons to students. Every student must actively take part in learning. Performance management systems even monitor if teachers are religiously complying with this. Students must be heard at all times and their welfare is of paramount consideration.

Failing an incompetent student must be the last decision to make. Numerous processes and negotiations must be done accordingly, and it is usually about answering the question, “What did you do as a teacher?”

Teachers follow policies by the government, school officials, and stakeholders to care for their students’ welfare. There is nothing wrong with this, but none of the policies look after the welfare of teachers. 

Teachers enjoy all this glorification and recognition, but what about their actual needs and wants at the root of their profession? How can teachers practice democracy in classrooms if the government is not practicing it for their welfare? 

Every policy imposed on teachers, meant to measure their productivity and effectiveness, are just implemented without consultation, despite the fact that teachers are direct agents of change in this society. Thus, these policies are not really pro-teacher. Instead, they restrict the academic freedom that educators are all entitled to.

The battle for a salary increase has long been fought, but it remains mere words to the ears of lawmakers, and used (and abused) as promises by political hopefuls during elections.

Honoring teachers must not be limited to celebrating them once a year or giving them discounts and tributes. Neglecting the voices of these heroes must be considered a social sin, for these voices must be prioritized. In every society, teachers must be the first to experience and model what a democracy should be.

Heroes do not expect compensation for their heroic deeds, but it is now time for the people in power to bestow upon teachers the recognition beneficial to them, for they are the ones responsible for the betterment of humanity as a whole. Let teachers finally reap the honor that they sow. – Rappler.com

Sonia Tomalabcad, 23, is a junior high school Araling Panlipunan teacher at Malanday National High School and a Philippine Studies student at the Asian Center, University of the Philippines Diliman. She is a Heroes Hub Youth Fellow and a member of Dakila: Philippine Collective for Modern Heroism.

This piece is part of a series by youth leaders from #WeTheFuturePH, a nonpartisan movement of Filipino youth standing up for rights, freedom, and democracy.

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