Redefining Teachers' Training for the 21st Century
Chairman, Victor OrdoNEz, Reforms, Presidential Commission On, Manila Bulletin
IT is with an unusual sense of anticipation and nervousness that I approach the podium this morning. It is true that giving speeches is not new to me, for one of the occupational hazards of my previous job with UNESCO was having to both give and listen to numerous speeches, many not as useful as others. But today I stand here for the first time in more than ten years speaking, not as an international diplomat of the United Nations, but as a private Filipino citizen. And today I speak on a topic, teacher education, that as I will try to show, is more important now than it has ever been.
I have returned home at a crucial time in the history of our country. And it is my deep concern for our country that has made me abandon my usual presentation style of international comparative analysis and statistical visual presentations to speak to you today from the heart.
This is neither the time nor the place, nor am I the person, to provide you with a political analysis of the current torrents besetting our nation. But as I reflected on the theme of teacher education for this conference, and on what I might usefully contribute to that theme, I saw the fundamental link between what we will be discussing over the next few days and the crisis gripping our country. Let me explain.
Clearly a nation cannot prosper, or indeed long survive, with a citizenry drained of moral fiber and driven to helplessness, despair, indifference and ultimately moral bankruptcy. Clearly, if our nation is to develop and prosper, a fundamental shift in the mindset of its citizens is imperative. And this is where I see the link to teacher education.
I apologize in advance if I give you this overly pessimistic perception: I have given up hope that the fundamental mindset of the present generation of Filipinos will ever change. There is too much historical baggage, too many dangerous role models around us, too many counterproductive media messages, too many unresponsive structures, too little incentive to change, and too much poverty that militates against it. My hope will rest and must rest on the next generation.
The problem is that, as I visit schools and see the next generation being prepared, I see that teachers are preparing them in exactly the same way this present generation was prepared, with the same curriculum, the same implicit value and reward systems, the same approaches that produced the present citizens and the present leadership (well schooled yes, well trained and well informed maybe, but well educated, no!). So the next generation will be the same! Teachers continue to provide their students with the tools of the past, blindly assuming that what these teachers were taught and how they were taught should be good enough for the future. Nothing could be more dangerously mistaken. It has been said, "The future is not what it used to be." But today's teachers are themselves products of this generation and this society, affected by and indeed part of the damaged fabric of our society.
Which brings me to the link and to my main point: If we are to create a renewed Philippine society, and if we have to depend on the next generation to make it happen, we cannot afford to have the same type of education, specifically the same type of teacher that we had in the past. We have to break down and throw away the old mold and paradigms and refashion the teacher for the future. And that is squarely the responsibility of the teacher educators, and the teacher training institutions of this land. The progress or decline of our country will largely depend on how you carry out this responsibility.
Let me start with my recent experience with the Philippine Presidential Commission on Education reform, which I had the privilege and responsibility of chairing. Part of my responsibility was to provide the international context to see how the Philippine educational system was doing, compared to the education systems of our neighboring countries in Asia, and with those of other developing countries throughout the world. …