17 Feb 2017
- By Jaime Vergara
THE CNMI obligates itself by law to provide education for the political unit’s young until a certain grade. It is the way a sociopolitical collective trains its supply of employees for its structures, public and private.
I substituted in schools around Saipan 2002 before I was asked to teach 6th grade at San Vicente; in 2008, I was diagnosed with cervical spondylosis. I sought therapy without surgery on the critical neck vertebra.
After doing public higher education in China, I returned and substituted for 1st Grade at William S. Reyes Elementary School. A supervisor noticed that I aimed too high for my classroom, or treated Grade 1 too independently as “adults” to have the students learn “different” stuff than what the other classes of the same grade level taught. Students do ascend levels and if they don’t, they are left behind. I tried to explain my pedagogy but the bother was mote. I pleaded “guilty” as charged. I was not asked to return.
I remain in the current list of qualified and available teachers for PSS, as a Basic I highly qualified teacher for Middle School on Social Studies. I was interviewed by two High Schools but their needs were adequately filled. Hopwood did specifically needed my HQT so PSS got the necessary papers before Principal Jonas got booted up to the native language program.
Parents who came over WSR on Teacher’s week, were of two kinds. There were readers of Marianas Variety who told me of what they read in the articles I wrote. The others knew of my column in Saipan Tribune, showed my photo to their child, but would not recall what it was I wrote about. But they knew I wrote for the paper and let their child knew that they knew. I was duly informed.
Learning is a lifelong task, a quest rather than a routine. Routines are for earning medals and awards, to be on top of the heap; acquisition takes the motivation out of the quest to learn into the dubious arena of how “to excel” and get points. Nine months before birth, we created a magnificent organism with the skeletal, muscular, digestive, nervous, circulatory, respiratory, etc. systems, and we are to excel? We already have, for heaven’s sake!
I spent a decade facilitating learning in communities and villages around the world whose folks needed to learn how to manage words and numbers to adapt to the requirements of commerce, trade, and industry. I taught methods; happily, English was spread where the sun did not set on the Empire and I could manage the language.
A mother counted her coins to be able to afford the fees that a private school expected to be paid. The children went around telling everyone that it was not their choice to attend the school but their parents made them come. It was the old Flip Wilson refrain: “the Devil make me do it” with a twist. “My parents made me do it!”
I asked them, “You decided to honor your parents by letting them choose where you attend school?” Of course, they said, “Yes.” I moved on: “They did not have to drag you into the car kicking in the morning to come to school, did they?” They replied: “Of course, not.”
“After honoring your parents, you enter the classroom of your own free will, and you decide to be a student.” They were quiet. They cornered themselves as students to honor the wishes of their parents who decided that they attend the private school!
The private schools on Saipan are mostly church-related of conservative persuasion; RC schools remain faithfully Catholic though still in the archaic medieval metaphors. The non-sectarians zero in on the Core standards to retain their accreditation.
Raised in the Methodist Church where the quadrilateral checklist of Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience guided matters of faith (the conservatives pushed for the pre-eminence of Scripture), I tend to be progressive in my approach to academic learning, i.e., I promoted reason from the Enlightenment.
I continued teaching as a vocational choice and signed up with the Public School System; most of the private schools on island adhered to the evangelical goals of their respective religious sponsors.
The difference between the private and the public ones are emphasis in method. The private schools, except Saipan International School, I gathered, rely on revealed knowledge, whether this comes from adherence to Holy Writ, or on the doctrines and dogmas of their religious persuasion.
The public schools are responsive to the structure of the brain that we map out on the first week of SFTD (sense, feel, think, do) but private schools inject the question of faith into the processes of imagination and cognition; the public schools skip this religious process all together though some individual teachers manage to sneak it in.
“It don’t matter none.” The government supports private schools with public funds so learning is learning in any language, as long as beliefs are stated as such. Method on how to learn is my Covenant, ergo, I teach.
Opinions expressed by Marianas Variety contributors are their own.