A husband-and-wife team teaching at the state-run Negros Oriental State University (NORSU) main campus here looks at the bright side of education amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
Justin Jose Bulado, who has a Ph.D., and wife, Maxine Flores, are a young couple married less than two years and are handling online classes with each class having around 45-55 enrollees, typical of a state university.
But what is more challenging than the class-size itself is the students’ and their families’ capability of meeting the demands of online education.
“The major challenge we have encountered, especially during the pandemic, is not being able to meet the students personally,” Maxine, 32, and Justin, turning 31 this month, said in an interview Friday evening.
“It becomes a different ball game if you are in a classroom setting compared to a digital platform where connection and the ability to acquire gadgets is the primary issue especially for students/parents who are struggling financially,” they both said.
Maxine, a graduate of Mass Communication and currently taking her Masters of Arts in Literary Studies, is an English and Literature instructor and teaches World Literature and Mythology and Folklore for undergraduates.
Her husband, Justin, on the other hand, graduated Bachelor of Arts in History, Masters of Arts in History, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Social Science, and teaches History-Rizal, Philippine History, and World History for both undergraduate and graduate school enrollees.
She has taught for seven years and he, for 10 years.
Asked what attracted them to teaching, Maxine says: “it is the ability for the instructor to share ideas as well as listen to ideas from their students. I believe it’s the opportunity to mold minds and help students grow without losing their identities as individuals.”
Justin replies: “I’ve always been fascinated with history and I want to teach young minds relevant lessons in history, specifically Philippine history.”
Because of their love for teaching, they say they are not cowed by the uncertainties of the current state of education in the country, rather they are prepared to take the challenges head-on.
“Admittedly, it is not a walk in the park for us to adjust to the current situation. However, life must go on and we cannot deter the education of the students. Fortunately for us, we are in an era of technology where communication is possible despite the distance,” the couple said.
Indeed it is not easy for everyone, teachers included, to adjust to this so-called “new normal” but their love for their job precedes such difficulties for these instructors.
“The reason why I love teaching is that it’s a different story every time. You encounter students from different walks of life with their own ideas. For me, individuality is important and mostly overlooked in the classroom setting. I believe that students should be allowed to develop themselves individually and not forced to hide their voices. Allow them to speak up, both literally and figuratively,” Maxine said.
Justin, on the other hand, said “I love teaching ‘cause I get to talk about pressing issues and connect it to lessons of history. Nowadays, with the advent of social media and disinformation in social media, people have become credulous or are easily drawn to inaccurate information apropos of history. So, I always make it a point to correct it.”
In the light of celebrating World Teachers Day on Oct. 5, the Bulado couple feels that sometimes “the struggles of instructors and teachers tend to be shrouded with comments against their deliverables and approaches in teaching which shouldn’t be the case.”
They tell the students to thank “the people who have dedicated their lives to teaching and molding you to be who you are today.” So on World Teachers Day, let us all take a moment to give a warm thank you to these people who have inspired us and helped us grow in knowledge and compassion. (PNA)