Tag Archives: education

Update!

It’s been a rather busy start of the year so forgive me if I haven’t been as active as I wanted to. I am going to keep this blog. I have no thoughts of giving this up whatsoever, but I won’t be very active in the blogosphere for a couple of weeks.

These months, however, have been very interesting. I’m proud to announce that the University of the Philippines Diliman, the uni where I graduates, was awarded Center of Excellence by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED. Here’s the document that proves it:

It’s also the first time of the university I’m a part of to host a massive conference comprising prestigious speakers from all over the country. The conference is about K-12 and Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education — both were implemented just recently. It was hard work for most of us and I would have really wanted to just sit down and listen to the talks. Alas, I was juggling several work loads.

I also had the chance to visit the ancestral land of the T’boli in Lake Sebu. We took our speakers there for R&R. The T’boli are very noteworthy. They’re very strong and they’ve kept their identity through the ages even with many threats in their surroundings. Their pride as a group is immense. I guess this raging pride tightens their hold to their culture and ancestry and binds them together as one. Given the chance, I’d love to conduct fieldwork in the area.

Other than that it’s been work, work, work for me. I did say I want to post every other day but with unexpected events I won’t be able to do that. However, I will try to post and interact as much as I can.

Thoughts About Intellectual Dishonesty

By Kert

Note: This post can also be found in my personal blog Trippings

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah! (image via MemeCreator.org)

It is the finals week and I am checking the papers of my students. I am very shocked to find out that none of them could do citations properly and more than half of them copied materials from the internet word for word. During the midterm exams, half of them obviously copied from another student (I know this because a lot of them have exactly the same answers, same number of correct and incorrect answers and, as ridiculous as it is, same number of misspelled words. There were even two essays that are exactly identical). As a teacher, this is appalling. As a former student who was always reminded of academic honesty, this is hideous.

But what am I to do? If I am to impose an iron hand, I should fail the lot of them. Cheating and dishonesty in the classrooms can be the beginning of future dishonesty. Plagiarism has been a major issue in the Philippines lately. There was a big scandal in 2010 in which a Supreme Court judge, Justice Mariano del Castillo was accused of plagiarism. People from the academe, especially the faculty of the University of the Philippines College of Law, were very vocal in their statement against the said act, which made them the target of the Supreme Court. There was a lot of heat in the event with Asian Correspondent writer Carlos Conde saying in one of his articles that “Philippine justice (is) a laughing stock”. Just this year, there is the senator Tito Sotto who shamelessly plagiarized an American blogger and even former US senator Robert Kennedy. He denied both cases even though the evidence was clearly there with his chief-of-staff admitting that passages were lifted from Sarah Pope’s blog and a copy of Sen. Sotto’s word for word translation of Kennedy’s 1966 speech made available in the internet. He brushed it off just like that, as if nothing happened. After that, he had the audacity to put ‘libel’ in the Cybercrime law to stop people from flooding him with hate speech.

Oh crap! They caught me! (image via ellentordesillas.com)

With government officials getting away with plagiarism issues, what message does that send to the people (especially the youth)? What does that say about our principles and values? “Certainly if it’s okay for them, then it is okay for us too. Because nobody cares, really.” Intellectual honesty is not valued enough. People like the Supreme Court justice and the senator should know better. And really, they should own up to their mistakes and not hide in the curtains of the “law” like the cowards that they are right now.

Back to the students. For them, the image regarding plagiarism is bleak. But then I wonder if there is an image at all. I am teaching in the university. First day of class I told them about plagiarism and that it could cause them a failing grade. I told them about citations, but I’m not an English teacher and we don’t have time to cover it properly (except for one sitting). However, my words have gone unheeded. But why? They’ve been in school, in the education system for 10-12 years before I’ve even met them. Most of them gave me a confused look when I said the word plagiarism and I had to spell it out on the board. P-L-A-G-I-A-R-I-S-M. Deliberately copying another’s idea and/or writings without attribution. Of course proving that a person plagiarized an idea is kinda tricky, but copying texts is more obvious. After my words, everybody said okay, but here I am several months later checking papers directly copied from the internet without quotations, without citations. And I’m screaming in my head, WHY??! Do they think I’m an idiot? And yes, I am frustrated.

They’ve been in school 10-12 years yet cheating doesn’t seem to make most of them feel any remorse (but I’d say that I also have students who really work hard and I am very proud of them). Does that say anything about our educational system? Why hasn’t it been remedied in between their 10-12 years in school? Teaching in the tertiary level, it’s hard to change some things that have already been ingrained in the minds of the students. They’ve been in this education system far longer than the time they spent in my class. I’m only there for one semester — a total of five months. And they’ve been through more situations in which they got away with cheating than being actually taught that it is wrong. How can I break that?

I also think that the grading system and the competitive set-up of the classroom have something to do with cheating. The Filipino education system is established on treating grades like a god, as if grades define the worth of a person. Students are pressured to get certain grades that they end up losing sight of what is right to achieve that goal. Cheating is okay, but getting a 5.0 is not. How did this value end up among our students? A co-teacher of mine said that cheating is a culture of the university. But I don’t want to believe it. I refuse to believe it. Besides, culture is supposed to be good. It’s supposed to make the society better and not drag it down. Or am I just being optimistic?

Now I am at lost whether I should really fail them or just give them the lowest passing grade possible. In one part, they are at fault. But in another, it is also our fault — the teachers. We are supposed to guide them to discern right from wrong and if they can’t do that, then there must be something missing — maybe we haven’t done our duty as best as we can. And so, it is also a bit unfair to just fail them like that. But then, it would be another time that they’re getting away with it.

Why Anthropology? Why Not? Plus, there’s a new anthro blogger in town

By Kert

There’s a new anthropology blogger in town — teenthropologist (I read it as TEETHropologist the first time — I might need glasses soon. She has an interesting article about how she ended up in Anthropology instead of Medicine (you should read it here). She also asks why Anthropology is not introduced before university. Indeed, why? A lot of school children’s lives might have changed direction if they knew of Anthropology (a student of mine, who is taking up Engineering, comes to mind).

I wrote a response to her post — stating my sentiments to her views. Here it is:

Hello,

I am an Anthropology graduate from the Philippines. I can very much relate to what you have written and I also wonder why kids aren’t exposed to Anthropology before college. When I went to college, I didn’t know what Anthropology is and what it’s all about. I was a Physics major. Like you, I was also more inclined in Mathematics (but a bit forcibly because my mother is a mathematics professor and my father is an engineer).

It was rather funny how I ended up taking an Anthropology subject. I was set out to take up Philosophy as an elective and there was no slots left. The girl from the registrar told me that Anthropology 10 (Anthropology of the Body) was still open. I didn’t know what it was, she just told me it was interesting and we are going to learn about people and different cultures — something which is of interest to me, as I aspire to be a writer and wanted to write about people.

It was one of the best courses I’ve ever taken in my life. I had one of the best professors, as well, who inspired me and is still inspiring me to continue in this field. He said he had been observing me since I became his student (1st year) until I graduated 6 years later (I got delayed because of too many field works, which I rather enjoyed) — PS. He… told me how he noticed how my happiness progressed as I took up Anthropology. A year after, I took another Anthropology subject (Applied Anthropology) and with my mother’s blessings, I worked out shifting from Physics to Anthropology after that.

Many of my friends were baffled with my decision. There is a mentality in my country that Anthropology (along with other humanities and social sciences) are considered lower than natural sciences. They also said that I wouldn’t be able to get a job when I graduate (a reasoning which is very funny in my opinion). Some commented that I took it up as a passion, much like taking Fine Arts as a passion. Not many of them understand that Anthropology is a rigorous science and it has helped our world in so many ways.

Now I am teaching Anthropology and Sociology in the university and going to join some researches about the peoples of Mindanao (usually, this is the place that gets televised in international news because of the wars). I am planning to take up my Master’s soon (though I haven’t figured out whether I should further Anthropology or take up Southeast Asian studies). We lack Anthropology majors in the country so it was easy for me to spot a teaching position as other courses are required to take up basic Anthropology courses.

Anyway, I am sorry for the long “essay”. My point here is you’re not alone in feeling that way. And I am so glad to have also found someone with the same sentiments. I am glad that you have found the course that you really want and that you are very much enjoying it. I am sure that when you take up Medicine, Anthropology will help you in more ways than one to be a better doctor and a better person. Much like Paul Farmer, his background as an anthropologist has enabled him to do his work better as a doctor and helping out more people in terms of medicine because he is able to understand them more than any other doctor can.

I wish you all the best in your endeavors and good luck with Anthropology. A big hurray for all Anthropologists in the world and I am wishing that there would be more people like us who will be given a chance to discover Anthropology one day and find that they are well suited for it. And hopefully, after that, people don’t need to discover Anthropology because it would be well known among the schoolchildren.

Note: I forgot to tell her that the fieldworks were not the sole reason why I got delayed. There were also many personal reasons.

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