Friday, August 20, 2010

Adults should also learn from kids

As adults, we need to understand that we used to live in a generation which is so different from the present generation. Children of today might not act the way we acted before and so instead of getting frustrated on how the societal landscape has changed and how the knowledge society has corrupted the minds of the younger generations, we could take some of our time contemplating on what are those things that we could learn from the new breeds. We could learn from the new generation as much as we could teach them about our own generation.  

We need to accept the fact that change is the only permanent thing in this world and that we need to go with the flow in order to keep ourselves in tune. We could not turn our children into the ideal kind of individuals our society used to have or is having but we need to make them realize that they could be better citizens and that they could create a better community. Recently, a friend of mine who is a father of two wonderful kids, mentioned that what we need to do as adults is do our best to provide a safe environment for our children while we let them explore and become independent. His words are very true and I am not wondering why he got two growing children who would hopefully help make this world a better place.

The following video from a TED Talk by child prodigy Adora Svitak has so many things to tell that I am sure many adults could learn. This video is a must-watch for parents, teachers and all adults especially those who are working with children.  

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Why did heavens know?

I wrote this poem while I was alone (as I always am and I am loving it at times) in my pad one rainy afternoon. I was reading a book when inspiration suddenly struck. Carried out by some thoughts of sadness and frustrations, I opened my notebook and started to jot down all the thoughts I had that time. I was glad I had that moment of solitude for it has been a long time since I wrote a poem as I have been too occupied with so many sciences and researches which are of vital importance in today's knowledge society and of course in my profession. I remember, the last English poem I entered in my journal was written inside an airplane almost four years ago when I first left the Philippines. It's entitled "I am a Traveler" and was written to express my musings on what a new and used to be strange country would offer me.

Life is a very wonderful journey, my friends. Let's enjoy life and live it to the fullest. Negative thoughts and emotions might dwell in us at times but they should not be the reasons for us to stop trudging the road we have chosen to follow. Instead, let those unlikely situations inspire us to do better and to do more -- ponder and write something from the heart. For now, here's another piece of my soul -- a sonnet that I sang when things just didn't work the way I wanted. Looking at the brighter side of each situation is a choice which is always freely given to us. The poem is here for you to decipher.

Ebony shade ate the sunlight hours
The sun sighed and the clouds cried
Birds fluttered fading away to a place I never knew
Then my soul wailed for a reason I didn't know

And then the trees chuckled
While the flowers smirked
Frogs exulted with euphoric tongue
Then my heart ebbed and flew

Like a swarming snake, I kissed the ground
And soaked my face in the feeble mire
The truculent fusion of teardrops and the meek brown dust
Left my face a gloomy wonder never defined

How did heavens know such melancholy?
I locked my mouth that no one would hear.
Yet the silent weeps roared into the sky
Why did heavens know? 

I stopped wondering…
Gazing my thoughts to those cold crystal drops
I knew heavens teemed down those liquid beads
So my desolated thoughts would be carried with the breeze.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Math and Music: Making Mathematics Interesting

It was last year when I decided to bring something new into my mathematics class by integrating music in one of my lessons which has been deemed boring by most of my students who were in a way hyperactive in the classroom. I decided to compose a rap based on our lesson and taught it to the learners. The purpose of the rap was not merely to have the learners do mathematical computations but to make their learning of mathematics more meaningful and relevant by making it interesting to them. Considering that they were all-boy classes, I thought that such activity would motivate them to learn mathematics in English which happened to be their second if not foreign language.

I taught the rap in the class with enthusiasm and was so amazed of its impact. Reading powers which was very difficult for them at first became so easy as they learned the structure through the song. It became easier for them too to master the mathematical terms involved in the lesson, thus, easily identify which is which as I taught the concepts and the operations. The result was very stunning for the fact that most of the students still memorized the lyrics of the rap even after few months. It's very uplifting to hear the students doing the rap each time I happened to see them in the school corridors. They were doing it as if they were not doing the mathematics which they found dreadful. Even until now that my students are already in the 9th grade, they do still master some parts of the rap that they happily hum it every time they see me. Just this afternoon, I met a former student near the school's gate and he called me, "Teacher Phil!" and when I answered back, he asked me if I know exponents. 

So that you would exactly know what I have been talking about, play the following video and listen to me rapping. It's not that good. I admit, some of my students had a better version than mine.
With such brilliant result in mind, I am becoming more motivated to do more in some of my lessons in the future especially those which would involve thorough understanding and memorization of mathematical terms and formulas. This is one of the exciting things that you would get from teaching -- you could have a multiple personality. There are times wherein you need to become a singer, rapper, dancer, poet, actor, stand-up comedian and the list continues. I once entered in my class with a husky voice due to my sore throat and the students noticed it as soon as I greeted them. Instead of giving them alibis for not being able to teach, I started the discussion grabbing the microphone which I specially had because of my sore throat and told them, "Class, as you have noticed, your teacher's voice is not that good. Please bear with him because he just had a series of concerts earlier." My statement then stirred laughter in the classroom.  I remember my professor who once told us, "As a teacher, think that you are all performers and your performances happen each time you teach. Make each performance the best that you could ever do."