Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Comment On A Commentary Part 1

I came across Mike Luz's Reform Agenda for Teachers over the weekend. I read it several times. On my third reading, I was pretty impressed with Luz's vision for the Filipino public school teachers. Having worked with public school teachers via the Readathon Prpgram of Sa Aklat Sisikat Foundation over the past years, Luz has hit the nail right smack on the head. Our teachers need to go back to the basics to be effective and efficient.

I agree on all his points: from the improvement of teachers' salaries to their working conditions; pre-service and in-service training; upgrading of competencies in the communication arts and computer literacy. Teacher development is one key to an improved educational system.

Here's what made me fall from my seat though --

All non-teaching assignments should be reviewed and minimized. Non-teaching assignments (e.g., librarian, bookkeeper, property custodian, etc.) take a teacher away from teaching. If these jobs can be done by volunteer parents, this would greatly improve “time-on-task” of teachers.

While I agree that teachers should focus on teaching, primarily because it is their job to TEACH, I beg to differ when Luz pointed out that the work and the job of a LIBRARIAN be given to parent volunteers. Teachers are given non-teaching assignments like library duty because there is a dearth of librarians in the public school system. Parent volunteers as LIBRARIANS is not the lesser evil. What can librarians do that parent volunteers can't?

Librarians can establish learning communities through the provision of learning resources and information. They can work with teachers to further one's professional growth. They can act as team "teachers" who lend support in teaching and instruction. Librarians can model the reading habit to children and guide teens on making decisions on simple to complex school projects. Librarians, just like teachers, can effect and affect change as he/she preserves the heritage and legacies of a culture and a nation. These are but some of the few things that librarians can do in a school. Build as many libraries as possible. That's good. Set up mini-libraries and literacy centers in the classroom. That's great! But with out the help of a librarian to manage the library as well as support the teacher in these endeavors, literacy instruction is incomplete.

Sadly, public school librarians are item-less in the Philippine public school. Besides, keeping a library and honing librarians to become partners in teaching and learning is an idea that has struggles to take flight in the Philippines. The eternal optimist in me is inspired to look for success stories and then some. More on this in future posts.

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