A total of 1,552 teaching and non-teaching personnel, school administrators, and school supervisors from public elementary and secondary schools gather in symposium held by Tzu Chi Foundation on September 13-14. This activity had been facilitated by five teachers from Malaysia.
Many teachers from Ormoc City’s division schools have shared positive feedbacks about the symposium. One thing is that it rekindles their passion as teachers who have the role of guiding children to become better adults.
The whole teaching force of Ormoc City gathers for a symposium on September 13 and 14 to gain an understanding about Jing Si Aphorisms (Still Thoughts) and how this could be integrated in the education system of the city’s division schools.
Jing Si Aphorisms are words of wisdom of Dharma Master Cheng Yen, the founder of Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation.
Teaching and non-teaching personnel, school administrators, and school supervisors from public elementary and secondary schools are present during the event, which was held in two days. It gathered 749 participants from the first to third districts during the first day and 833 from the fourth to sixth districts on the second.
Also present during this occasion are Schools’ Division Superintendent, Mariza Magan, Ormoc City Mayor Edward Codilla, and his wife, Violy.
In May this year, Superintendent Magan had the chance to learn from the members of Tzu Chi Teachers’ Association in Taiwan during an educational tour with teachers from San Mateo, Rizal. It was a five-day sharing of experiences and workshops on effective classroom management using Jing Si Aphorisms. Inspired by the manner in which the instructors shared their teaching approaches, she had hoped to share what she experienced with the teachers from her hometown. Not long after, this simple aspiration became a reality.
“This is truly a wish granted. Our teachers are motivated to attend and learn how the teachers from Taiwan and Malaysia carry out their classroom instructions,” she says, hoping that the teachers will be inspired and be challenged by the symposium.
She adds that Tzu Chi’s advocacy on instilling upright values among the students is a universal goal, whatever country it is. She thanks the teachers from Malaysia, who are also certified Tzu Chi volunteers, who sacrificed their time to share their expertise with the Filipino teachers in Ormoc.
Mayor Codilla also gave a warm message for all the attending teachers. Adopting a Jing Si aphorism by Master Cheng Yen, he tells the teachers to be like the sun that nurtures a tree, a farmer that nurtures the soil, and a light that never runs out.
“I hope that by attending this training, you will be able to pass better values and teachings to your students, guiding them further toward a bright future,” he says in his message.
In an interview, Mayor Codilla adds that the symposium is a huge help to the education sector as it will enhance not only their teaching methods but also their attitude in their profession.
“Teachers play a very important role because we might have been a notorious community had it not been for the guidance of teachers. Thanks to Master that we have this kind of opportunity for our teachers here in Ormoc,” says Mayor Codilla in an interview.
Teaching with heart
The sense of unconditional love is what Cesar Garcia, a grade school teacher from Linao Central School, has gained from attending the symposium on September 13.
“That is the most important. I have learned a lot from them such as giving equal chances to students. One of the notable aphorisms I’ve gained today is the one that says, ‘Do not underestimate yourself because everyone has unlimited potentials.’ It’s very true,” he says.
Eden Laurente, principal of Hibuanon Elementary School, had been nostalgic on the other hand while listening to the talks of the Malaysian visitors. She is part of the participants during the second day.
“Back in my time as a teacher, we give high emphasis on the values of our students. This symposium brings us back to real teaching, which is teaching with heart. Teachers must always have the passion to educate their students. Values first on top of others because whatever a child learns today, he brings it to his future,” the principal says.
“I really hope that we can have more of this kind of gathering,” she adds.
This is echoed by Kai Fernandez, an English teacher in Dolores National High School, who is also assigned as the Prefect of Students’ Formation or the disciplinarian in general use of the word.
“What the teachers from Malaysia taught us today is something that we should all learn from. I really appreciate how they deliver their lectures. They do it in a manner so subtle and creative where students can easily grasp the lesson beneath games and fun activities,” he says.
Fernandez adds that what is more moving from this approach is the fact that it is learner-centered. “Nowadays, we almost forget that the goal of teaching is not solely about the grades. Guiding the students in the proper direction is very important,” he shares.
55-year-old Narcisa Batoon, head teacher at New Ormoc City National High School, highly lauds the event because it gave them simple yet effective teaching strategies. “For most of us, this is fresh knowledge. Teaching Jing Si Aphorisms is not only applicable to values education but we can actually integrate it in all subject areas,” she mentions.
Meanwhile, for Henrietta Managbanag, school principal of Liloan Central School, the seminar rekindled her passion as a teacher who has the goal of inspiring her students to become better adults. “I felt like I was reborn as an educator. Our role of guiding our youth serves as our legacy. This means, even if we pass our years on earth, the kind of coaching we gave our students shapes the future. Positive virtues cannot be compensated by any kind of wealth,” she adds.
The symposium had been jam-packed with creative activities on delivering Jing Si Aphorisms through games and video clips. The teachers from Malaysia have also shared their own life experiences including how the Jing Si Aphorisms influenced them as individuals and as teachers at the same time.
Among them are couple Hoe Sew Chau and Yap Siaw Ngo. Before meeting Tzu Chi Foundation, Hoe relates that he was a strict teacher. Being a disciplinarian, he even considered it a requirement to be strict and stern to students. But his approach changed when he has met Master Cheng Yen.
“After learning of Master’s wisdom, I began to teach my students with sincerity and love and I realized that it is the best way to teach,” he says.
He and his wife had been Tzu Chi volunteers for 13 years. Aside from being academic teachers, they take pride in being an advocate for environmental protection. They are among the 10,000 recycling volunteers in Malaysia and they are also sharing their recycling efforts with their students.
During the two-day symposium, the couple covered a talk on environmental protection, presenting a startling figure on the amount of garbage being produced from their country. Plastic and products of the same kind largely contribute on this.
“Recycling is too important to be ignored. I hope that they can bring this idea of recycling to their schools. If one teacher can start on it, the whole community can be helped,” Yap says.
She cited, based from a notable advocate for environmental protection that, one of the things that human beings can do to heal the deep wounds they have caused the earth is to eat less meat. Livestock industry covers 51 per cent or the largest cause of pollution on earth.
Yap also shared the 5R’s which the teachers can adopt to better contribute on helping the environment: Refuse, reduce, reuse, repair, and recycle.
“I’m impressed because I have only learned about the five R’s this time. In Science, we are only talking about the 3 R’s (reduce, reuse, and recycle). This time we learned about repair and refuse. This is useful on our part because we can disseminate it with our children. As a school head, I can have it implemented in our school and integrate it in our lessons. Gradually, our pupils could imbibe these values,” says Patricia Andrin, principal at San Jose Elementary School.
Another teacher, Ma. Jeresa Matiga is also excited to go back to her school and implement recycling activities. They have a total student population of 1,187 in Valencia National High School. She says it will be a good project among high school students.
“I will definitely lead the teachers in our school to impart to our students the importance of recycling. We are thankful to Tzu Chi that we were able to learn about these things. Thanks to the teachers who taught us how to bring out good values to our students and to the community as a whole,” she shares.
In 1990, Master Cheng Yen delivered a public talk which ignited a global response to protect the environment. In her words, she asked everyone to instead use their clapping hands to recycle.
Master Cheng Yen’s books of Jing Si Aphorisms contains a wide range of subjects including human affairs, environmental protection, spiritual cultivation, personal development, and doing good deeds among others.