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Friday, September 9, 2011

"Chalk Holiday" on Teachers' Month

In the news today, teachers threaten the government's Education Department of a "chalk holiday" if the yearly chalk allowance of P700 will not be increased to P2,000. A not so good way to start the National Teachers' Month.

On September 16, about 100,000 teachers nationwide will teach, but will not use the blackboard to do so. Some time ago, teachers threatened to walk out and not teach if government refused to increase teachers' salaries. Now, this current threat is kind of sweet. They will teach but will not write to teach.

I wonder if our teachers are aware that the greatest teachers never used any instructional material but themselves. The greatest teachers had no classroom to hold their class, no blackboards to demonstrate their thoughts. Thinking about it now, the best teachers I had hardly used the board - black or white.

Not to be sarcastic about it (really!), I hope teachers make good of this threat. It can be a blessing in disguise for they may just learn to be creative and teach with just them as the teaching tool and still reach effectively their objectives.

Going back to the budget issue, if the government relents to the request of chalk allowance increase, the government will need to allocate a P2B fund for pieces and boxes and trailers of chalk. Now, that's a whole dang plenty of tuberculosis-inducing chalk dust to contend with. Will Quezon Institute be ready for it?

Below is a poem for all teachers this National Teachers' Month:

By Bliss Cua Lim

At the end of the hour there is dust on my fingers,
White chalk dust that silkens yet terrifies,
Delineating tiny borders on my palm beneath my thumb,
Nets and creases on my twenty year-old skin.

I ask myself what I do it for, and I say
Not For Them, they come and go, and
I have given up on metamorphosing minds.
I say instead, I am the teacher that
The child I was would like to have learned from.

In our moist, clammy library, smelling of
Dog-dung and moldy paperbacks, I ransack
Worn carton boxes for old college papers but
That girl is not there; her image is a palimpsest
And memory has given her a cerebral glow;

Where her outline shimmers with intellectual passion I
Doubt this visage and in the end I fear
I have forgotten the child for whom
I have become what I am
And I begin to realize that if she-that-was-I
Sat in my classroom, she might not know me.

All this, as I run the eraser over my own writing
On the board, diffusing the chalk dust that
Can only be spread thinly or inhaled but never vanquished,
Running mental fingers over the faces I just addressed,
Wondering if there was someone/anyone there I missed.

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