The Heart of Education
The heart of education is not the students, not the teachers, not the school administrators, not the parents, not even the leaders and the people. The heart of education is the strong and healthy partnership these stakeholders have among one another. They should be able to equally play the roles expected of them. As they conscientiously fulfill their roles, they should also respect and trust each other. There should be equal play of liberty and unity. If one tries to overpower or interfere in someone else’s tasks, derailment from its intended goal may happen. This may sum up, what the Great Aristotle once said, “educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”
The heart of education is not the grades, not the accomplishments, not the titles, not the rewards, not the remuneration, and not the position. The heart of education is the virtues we form in ourselves and impart to others to make this world a better place. Jack Ma termed this as the “Soft Skills.” Angela Lee Duckworth called this “Grit.” Carol Dweck emphasized this as the “Growth Mindset.” Whatever term it is, this has always been my goal, not perfect, but it has always been giving my very best.
This term (June – Sept, 2021), I was blessed to handle 120 Grade 11 students from my three Oral Communication in Context (OCC) classes. Academically speaking, this means reading or watching, commenting, and marking 120 tasks almost every week. Vocationally speaking, it entails a 120 million spectrum of teaching minds, touching hearts, and transforming lives; hence, I always follow eclectic teaching methodologies. Accordingly, I constantly remind my students that “the failure of one is the failure of all; the success of one is the success of all”. As a class, we have to trust and appreciate the process of failing and learning.
This was gracefully evident in my classes, especially when they spoke about their experiences during our last meeting. They all gleefully cherished the lessons, the professor (that’s me), and their classmates. How I wish I can post our videos here so you can assimilate more the overflowing love, positive energy, and most generous appreciation we shared with each other. This did not end here, reading their reflection papers a week after our last meeting confirmed all the more the line, “from the bountiful of heart, the mouth speaks.”
The Joy of Learning and the Gift of Giving.
Let me tell you one of the highlights of our last Zoom class meeting. A group of the sweetest and most dynamic students decided to stay after our class (See photo above). They all agreed that the term flew so fast and they had to prolong it a bit by having a chat with me. If you’re a teacher and this does not make your heart melt, maybe the next thing that happened will.
They poured their hearts out by telling the struggle they had in order to improve their informative speeches. Given their limited knowledge of the English macro skills and the kick of self-pride, they spent longer time to absorb my corrective feedback. Eventually, they got themselves back and decided to either ask for a consultation meeting with me or to review the lessons and to read up more sources regarding their chosen informative speech topics. My students did not complain, rant, or blame anyone; they instead transformed their hurdles into a fruitful experience.
Not only that, they took the initiative to evaluate each other’s speech manuscripts in order to oversee what was still missing and to suggest ideas that could make their speeches abundant and engaging. After which, they created and watched each other’s videos. By doing these, they learned and inspired one another.
Once they experienced that Eureka moment, they even extended their assistance to their friends from the other classes. Telling their stories to me, they were overjoyed with what they discovered about themselves, the deep friendship they built, and the achievement they accomplished.
My students understood the principle of partnership which is interdependence. This is the very essence of education – that it will not always be easy but it will always be fulfilling and that’s the joy of learning.
In Carol Dweck's words, "when they stepped out of their comfort zone to do hard things and they stuck to them, the neurons in their brain could form new connections - stronger connections and over time they could get smarter" (3:44). Jack Ma elaborated smarter as "values, believing, independent thinking, teamwork, and care for others" (0:46) which means the goal of education is "intelligence plus character" (para. 7) as The Great Martin Luther King Jr. put it. While, Ira Byock called this being civilized and said, "we are at our best when we serve others" (para. 4).
Speaking of which, my students certainly offered their best because in their reflection papers many of them commended the flair and support we got from one another. Some of them specifically mentioned that they were inspired by the friendship and diligence of the ten students (See photo above). This is the heart of education – we celebrate each other’s strengths and inspiration!
The Grateful Heart.
The term is over but we still exchange messages of gratitude and affection.
Thank you, my dear students. Thank you for whole-heartedly fulfilling your roles towards sustainable education. Thank you for appreciating my efforts, pedagogies, and love. Thank you for the trust and respect. I will never forget you all!
With that understanding, here’s a special shout-out to:
Juan Miguel Azul, Leila Kathleen Crisostomo, Kylene Du, Danica Mae Perez, Alliah Dionelle Sison, Ariane Stephanie Tan, Veronica Tansengco, Julia Tayag,Patrick Tiamzon, Anne Kristen Ting, Von Anthony D. Billones, Ma. Michaela Constantino, Samantha Echiverri, Julienne De Jesus, Francheska Brigola, and Alonzo Navarro.
As the Great Aristotle said, the roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet. This term, my students and I were able to taste its sweet fruit of labor! So, let's remain hopeful, respectful, and grateful!
May the joy of learning, the gift of giving, and the grateful heart be always with us!
Ebertz, R. (2015). What is vocation? University of Dubuque. https://www.dbq.edu/CampusLife/OfficeofStudentLife/VocationalServices/WhatisVocation
Stanford. (2015, November 4). Teaching a growth mindset - Carol Dweck [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isHM1rEd3GE
Soft Skills FUNCLUB. (2018. February 2). Children should be taught “Soft Skills" - Future of Education explained by Jack Ma [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtBnwJp-mVM
TED. (2013,May 9). Grit: the power of passion and perseverance | Angela Lee Duckworth [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H14bBuluwB8