It was my first time to be assigned to teenagers. Fresh from a nearly two-year stint in the newsroom, the classroom felt like a new planet teeming with “alien” life. I used to be assigned to middle school a few more years back. I was easily the tallest person and emotions were simple then that in my experience, the biggest problem of the day was usually a messy room.
But there I was, greeted by energizing smiles and upbeat hellos, young lads who avoided eye contact and spoke in booming voices. That first “good morning handshake” triggered such excitement.
On the other hand, what made me nervous was the adolescent mind. Teenagers’ critical faculties are more developed compared to younger children, so this is an intellectually charged group (note that all classrooms regardless of age are emotionally charged too, gospel truth). I have never been completely comfortable around teenagers. In my exaggerated universe, the only thing stopping them from stabbing adults is their constantly evolving plan of how to destroy authority. Yes, they are critical but their judgment is still not sharp enough. It’s not too helpful to be the rigid parent/teacher, but you don’t want to be too soft. I found out, in later weeks and months that teenagers respond best when they are not just served rules and regulations. They appreciate if they are allowed to take the lead or participate in the decision making process.
We were already well into current events by March 2017. What better way to teach Reading and Writing and Media Literacy than to expose students to public figures who make a positive impact in society through song. It wasn’t like I was going to break into Let It Go, right? I had reservations in proving a point to 17-year-olds through songs but I pushed through since we could use a little surprise to shake things up.
I started by recalling Gary Granada’s Bayan Muna, which we talked about early February. Then we moved to the month’s biggest celebration: 1986 People Power Revolution anniversary. How was media used then and now? What did newspaper front pages look like? Thanks to Rappler for this one. Then the next big question: how did other forms of media shape political consciousness and social awareness?
Enter Porbida. For life. If middle schoolers saw the world as beautiful, eleventh graders saw it as a tug of war between good and evil. The war against drugs has stretched the death toll to at least 9,000. Porbida. Protect life by killing others, the biggest irony of all. The song was the perfect piece to illustrate how creativity and critical thinking can go together. It is an interesting avenue to encourage action especially to teens.
One student gave me my golden moment when she identified the stark contrast between the song’s melody and lyrics. The lyrics were dark but the jazz killed it and made it catchy. I went home feeling fulfilled that day.
Bianca Gacad, 26, is a high school teacher handling Reading and Writing and Media Literacy. She took up BA Communication at Miriam College