Matter of the Heart

Matter of the Heart

A Matter of the Heart
By Prof. Teodora A. Cubelo, Director, Institute of Clinical Laboratory Sciences

Growing up with parents who were both teachers, I would often hear them talk to us about their profession. They would always tell us that not everyone is called to be a teacher but that teaching is the most fulfilling of all professions.

I can vividly recall how we would vehemently debate with them about such claims because we often noticed that they were always too busy with their work. You see, after putting us kids to bed, instead of going to bed themselves, they would often retire to their office tables in the far corner of our living room and prepare for their classes the following day. I would wake up sometimes in the middle of the night and I could still see the bowed head of my parents deeply engrossed in their work. They would either be typing something on the ever useful family typewriter, or reading some portions of a book.

It was this kind of lifestyle that made us vow that we would never become teachers.

Looking back, my parents must have been secretly amused at us when they retired from their work because those of us who were determined not to become teachers, ended up becoming one. I have been in this profession for many years now; and if I were to turn back time, I would still choose to be one.

To say that teaching is a vocation is true. It is a calling but only for those who are willing to be used as a vessel to change lives for the better. I would like to believe that teaching is a matter of the heart. We can only be effective in the teaching- learning process of a student if our motivation is driven by a heart that seeks to transform the life of learners who come along our way. We cannot be effective mentors if what motivates us to stay in the academe is not for the purpose of changing lives for the better. When students whom we have mentored look back upon what we have labored, a teacher with a heart shall we fit into what John Ruskin wrote about building when he said:

when we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work that our descendants will thank us for; and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when such stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say, as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, “See? This our father did for us.” “

I found this gem of thought just very recently while going over the antique books of my father. Born in 1917 to a very poor family and orphaned at the age of 7 years old, he treasured the privilege of going to school. As a student in Building Construction, he was able to acquire these two volumes of Building by John Ruskin. Years after his death, I found them – well-preserved in the far corner of our old book cabinet. My father must have read it a lot of times because the pages were torn and almost falling out. Written on the inner leaf of the cover of the two volumes was this exhortation by the author. As to why he taught his students well, this must have been my father’s secret formula as an educator in the field of building construction.

Let us teach well then! Our life upon this earth can be likened to a fish in the endless ocean of life. We move along the shifting sands of the ocean of time only to be buffeted by the waves. Sometimes we romp and swim with the current, trying to discover what lies ahead on each direction. We feed on the rich nutrients of knowledge and truth passing our way – sometimes with little effort, sometimes with great. We hope and trust with surety that we will grow. Often we follow where the school of fish leads, yet sometimes we travel on our own practicing and exercising whatever we have learned from the leader of the school. During these moments of being alone, we pray that we will grow unto maturity and be that teacher/leader someday – so knowledgeable, so full of wisdom. We pray that we will not be caught in the snare of nets of men that keep us penned and without freedom. We pray that we will be able to breathe in air that sustains life and taste the dainties near the surface, lie on the sand of ocean bottoms and frolic by the living corals.

Such is the life of an educator with a heart. A seeker of knowledge yet able to appreciate everything about life. We are disturbed when the oceans quake and fire bursts forth from underground volcanoes and our students disappear and never return. We discover that our lives feel empty if we lose them to the wayward world because we just romped and played during moments when they were most vulnerable and teachable. So we seek them out at the slightest sign of wavering for fear that we might lose them in the vast ocean of life.

Teachers with a heart should not be contained in a box and believe that education can only be defined according to effective delivery of our curriculum. Education should be a life-changing lesson.