[OPINION] Teachers aren’t perfect, but they also deserve due process

Earl Carlo Guevarra

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[OPINION] Teachers aren’t perfect, but they also deserve due process
Using one's popularity and reach to crucify a teacher in the public eye never solves anything

The year was 2011. At the time, I was studying as a sophomore at a private high school in Zamboanga City.

One day, I wasn’t able to solve a simple algebra problem in class. When my math teacher saw my empty notebook, he uttered the following words in a heavy Eastern European accent: “You idiot! You don’t even know how to solve this problem! You imbecile!”

Instead of showing me how to solve that problem, he just stood there, berating and cursing me for 5 minutes. Despite my attempts to reach out and talk to him, he grunted and ranted and lashed out at me verbally.

Thanks to him, whatever interest I had in mathematics evaporated since then.

On the other hand, there were also teachers who inspired me to improve my craft and be a better person overall. I am forever grateful to them for the lessons they’ve imparted to me, which are still imprinted in my mind to this very day.

One of my English teachers, for instance, taught me that literature is a portal to new worlds. Thanks to the inspiration she provided in those days, I am currently pursuing a master’s degree in Creative Writing at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

Still, teachers aren’t perfect – they can make or break a child’s life in numerous ways.

They come in different shapes and sizes, various temperaments and flavors. While we often consider them to be heroes and visionaries – heck, we call them second parents – we also know very well that they’re humans, and that they’re bound to make mistakes along the way. (READ: [OPINION] A teacher’s plight: The problem in our educational system

So, yes, teachers make mistakes. And yes, they should be held accountable when necessary.

Yet, their rights should be protected and due process should be observed, especially when the teacher and the student are both parties to the incident.

The episode where a teacher from Manila was convinced – no, coerced – to give up her license and profession on a talk show by Raffy Tulfo was a terrible example of how to handle a sensitive case.

Regardless of the circumstances, there are processes that should have been followed. What is the use of the parent shaming the teacher in public? What is the use of having the teacher go through trial by publicity?

Does it serve proper justice to the child? Does it protect the interest of the teacher? Does it satisfy the thirst of the parent for accountability?

The bitter truth is, it doesn’t. All that is left are painful memories. All that is left are useless, half-baked compromises that benefit no one.

This situation could have been handled in a more civilized and productive way. There are two things to consider when making a complaint on the misconduct of a teacher. (READ: [OPINION] A teacher’s thoughts on Raffy Tulfo, discipline, and punishment)

First, if the teacher truly erred, why not raise concerns to the proper authorities first? Why not trust in the process? In their public statement, Department of Education officials said that the administrative process was already ongoing before the parents aired their concerns on the show.

Second, the country’s Child Protection Act already covers the necessary steps in order to protect the rights of the child and provide the teacher with a proper forum in order to rectify his or her mistakes. Yes, there are sanctions for teachers if they’re proven to have overstepped their bounds.

Most teachers are not unreasonable people. They, at the very least, can make amends and strive hard never to commit the same mistake again. After all, they never went into the profession to maim or harm students – most of them only have their students’ best interests in mind. (READ: WATCH: Why do teachers teach?)

Using one’s popularity and reach to crucify a teacher in the public eye never solves anything.

Two wrongs don’t make a right. – Rappler.com 

Earl Carlo Guevarra, 25, is a teacher of English at an international school in San Juan City. When he’s not teaching writing or grammar, he likes to drink fruit shakes and dabble in poetry.

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