A Love for KW@SU
(This page temporarily features articles by Dr. Betsy Joy B. Tan, Vice President for Academic Affairs, who has been designated as Acting President in concurrent capacity, while Dr. Ben S. Malayang III is on official leave. Dr. Malayang will resume his reflections in August.)
A Love for KW@SU: Alert, Firm and Strong
By: Dr. Betsy Joy B. Tan
(Note: Message delivered at faculty and staff worship service in celebration of the University Christian Life Emphasis Week.)
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 says, “Be awake to all the dangers; stay firm in faith; be brave and be strong. Let everything you do be done in love”.
In the knowledge community that we are, loving the work that we do is crucial to our students, the reason why Silliman University was born; to ourselves, the reason why Silliman University continues to live beyond her centennial years; to society, the reason why our country continues to be the land of our Faith; and to the missionary zeal of Dr. David S. Hibbard and Dr. Horace B. Silliman, the reason for our beginnings in the service of education on the strength of an international culture and the responsibility for others they left for us to live and pursue.
And so, as knowledge workers long nurtured in FIRE, Faith in Instruction, Research, and Extension – and in the context of this commemoration of University Christian Life Emphasis Week -let us pause to ask ourselves, “After all these years, do we still love the knowledge work that we do… whether in instruction, research, or extension?” Or are we instead caught in a trap we may not even be aware of?
From the LearningAccount website, we are confronted with today's school reality: a generational divide between us teachers, the 'digital immigrants' who belong to the pre-internet generation and our students today, the 'digital natives' born into the internet world, the world of technology where TV was their favorite baby sitter at home, and whose world is meshed in the world of instant communication. Between them as learners and us as teachers, do we recognize the generational divide? And are we doing something about ourselves, about our teaching, to close or even lessen that generational divide?
We also have to remember that because our world is now digital, teachers and students do not anymore have the same habits of information processing, thinking, and learning. And yet, we now suffer from information overloads, even information explosions! With student brains wired differently from those of their teachers, how do we nurture a love for our work these days? When interconnectivity is the nature of the 21st century digital world, how do we teachers stay relevant to and in the knowledge work that we do?
In the midst of all these challenges and constancy of knowledge assimilation, renewal, and accommodation, are we still capable of helping our students connect the dots of knowledge and learning … allowing them the system and comfort of knowledge management in each of their knowledge disciplines?
In a society steeped in the trappings of technology that encourages passive thinking in kinesthetic intelligence that feeds on people's desperate hunger for fame and self-promotion, can we still help them tame their emotional intelligence for the rationality of the mind? Do we still make our classrooms emotionally safe and secure? Are we still helping them with the Faith that sustain them long after they shall have left the portals of the University?
In a society that treats the entertainment industry better than the education industry through specific and prolonged attention to self-care, through compensation and benefits, and through unstable attitudes and unthinking habits of culture, are we still grounded on the Faith and truth that Silliman University has entrusted to us … for our students?
Everyday as we keep ourselves glued to the realities of today, listening to or reading the news keeps us updated about the world of our students. As knowledge workers charged with their future, do we still possess the passion and competence to love and pursue our knowledge work in spite of what it is: predominantly intellectual, constantly requiring the consistent application of judgment, difficult to be routinized, and which only finds pleasure and joy in prolonged preparation through education?
Today, do we still possess such qualities? Today, with a unionized faculty and staff, are we still grounded on the current challenges of the Knowledge Society where wealth is defined as sharpness of mind, rationality of thought, and faithful adherence to professional service? Or are we still holding on to the trappings of the past Industrial Society that was labor-intensive, and capital was wealth?
Many of us find much pleasure in the simple joys and clean air of Dumaguete City. Today, many of us also continue to serve our first jobs, our first love, Silliman University.
Yet today, loving the work that we do requires much more than the routine of loving the City and the University. Today, staying on the job that we love requires us to stay professionals forever: alert, firm, and strong – alertness because of the nature of our knowledge work; firmness because of the commitment and difficulties in designing our knowledge work relative to the challenges that our students give us; and strength not only to continue loving the work that we do . . . in the University that we love . . . but also the strength as we balance the quality of life we strive for as individuals, as professional in pursuit of our ideals, and as teams of knowledge workers constantly engaged in sharpening our brains so as to sharpen the brains of students in our care!
Keeping and loving the job that we do may be riddled with many unconnected dots, but let us take hope from one of my favorite sources of strength, “Faith”, as described in Apples of Gold, a compilation in 1962 by J. Petty: You can't control the length of your life; but you can control its width and depth. You can't control the contour of your face; but you can control its expression. You can't control the weather; but you can control the atmosphere of your mind”,
Let us then look at life's challenges as opportunities in light of our faith in Christ. Today, loving the work that we do is knowledge work wrapped in our unshakeable Faith, in our love for Christian living, in standing firm in our love for Christ Himself. May we not stay long as 'digital immigrants' or 'digital refugees'. May we instead graduate from 'digital bridges' to 'digital natives' just like our students to keep alive the flame of interconnectivity sharpened in the 2151 century!
Today and always, let us keep in mind 1 Corinthians 16: 13-14.