Sunday, October 5, 2014

my top 10 teachers I want to sit in classes of

Being one in celebration of World Teachers' Day, and having first dibs at what a vocation teaching is, I list down the top 10 teachers whose classes (if they do hold classes) I want to attend or have attended. Interesting, this list turned out to be. When I started composing it from the top of my head, most of the names that popped up are not of biologists or food scientists. Most of them are experts in the social sciences. Prof Payawal, the only one from the Biological Sciences, even taught his course with a heavy dose of social science!

Does that imply anything? Perhaps, I'm trying to understand science in the social context? Or maybe my interest in the social sciences came even much earlier, back in senior year high school when most of the university applications I submitted had social science as my major. 

Without further ado, my top 10 list of teachers I wish or I actually had attended the classes of:

 1. Ambeth Ocampo

History has always been deemed as a steady, boring stream of dates, names, and places. However, he changed all that. The professor teaching the PI 100 class I had in back in college introduced the students to Ocampo's book "Rizal Without an Overcoat". That made studying history more fun: national heroes that are usually being deified are brought back to Earth through his engaging way of writing the heroes' stories. I just imagine sitting in an Ocampo class and learning and retaining a lot more information because he's able to make history relatable to students... they way that it should be.

 2. Paul Zafaralla

Another of my most memorable professors in UPLB. Imagine a summer... Instead of lounging by the beach, immersing myself in the lushness of rainforests, or simply just being a couch potato at home, I was attending a class which I'd call a blockbuster hit if it were a movie. His Humanities 2 class is the only one I've sat in where students are actually lining up and willing to sit on the floor or stay standing up in class because there's just too many students wanting to attend it... even if he was a tough professor... definitely NOT an easy A. Let's put it this way: He is UPLB's real-life answer to Harvard U's fictional Robert Langdon.

 3. Pacifico Payawal

If anyone has said that theater arts and science lectures could be done by one person on one stage at the same instant, I would have scoffed and said that this is impossible. However, I've seen it with my own two eyes... for one semester, I sat at his Bio 70 class in UPLB and was so fascinated with how he claimed that "people are children of the stars" and how he empathically and fearlessly predicted that one day, fuel supplies in the world will all be used up. He used the front of the classroom as his stage and performed a monologue, Tuesdays and Thursdays, week in and week out, without fail. One of the most fascinating teachers to watch... and his class had helped me understand that biology is not in a silo. It is connected with economics, with culture, with politics... Basically, heis lectures prepared me, mentally, for one of the last courses I sat in in UPLB: STS 101.

 4. Al Gore

I'm a fan of his Inconvenient Truth documentary. I even got myself a ticket months in advance so I could watch his talk in Manila! He shows that slide decks are important but the way the story is told is important as well. He addresses both the heart and the mind, with the expectation that people listening to him would support his cause. His presentation style, along with Steve Jobs' awesome MacWorld speeches, has led me to the works of Nancy Duarte and Garr Reynolds, actually.

 5. Nancy Duarte and Garr Reynolds

Their visual aid aesthetic philosophies are very influential as I develop my presentation skills. They say, in essence, that slide decks are not crutches; they are not hand-outs; they are not supposed to cause information indigestion. As I learn how to build slidedecks, I begin to appreciate the importance of going offline and drawing storyboards by hand as I solidify the 12-minute tale I will weave for the audience both for information dissemination and for entertainment.

 6. Neil Bearden

I flew to INSEAD to attend his lecture during an introduction to the MBA program there. And I'm so glad that I did! He was talking about the importance of distinction, of being different. For me, the way the concept was presented was new. He was confident in front of the classroom and he talked with such authority that my fellow orientees were all at attention. The vibe of his class was also one of excitement, of focused business-y discussions, and of practical applications... not so much of lofty, theoretical, and academic talk that I expected from a graduate-level course (Disclaimer: I missed out on the graduate school classroom experience because I was a research-based PhD student so I may have a very wrong expectation of what grad school is like).

 7. Cheche Lazaro

I am a big fan of her shows! This lady demonstrates what intelligent Philippine journalism is all about. Not like those pseudojournalists who tend to sensationalize every phrase that movers and shakers of Philippine society blurt out, no matter how disconnected these are with issues affecting the Philippines. If I studied Communications or Journalism (just like what my teachers predicted when I was in high school), I would've enrolled in her class back in college... if she's teaching back then.

 8. Winnie Monsod

Ah, yes... if it's Cheche Lazaro for Communications, it's Mareng Winnie for Economics. I used to watch her show on the telly (Debate with Mare at Pare) and imagine what it was like to be in her class. I bet that she's not an easy A just like Prof Zafaralla, but just being in her class to learn Economics and applications of it in daily life is enough. Never mind the grade on the class card !

 9. Jim Paredes

I attended a focus group discussion on his latest set of songs a few years ago. During that discussion, I saw how deeply immersed he is in music (along with everyone in the group) and thought that he must be a good teacher, rubbing off his passion for different music genres with the group. And later, I found out, the he indeed was! 

10. Randy David

This is the guy who shows how speaking in Filipino and how speaking in English the intelligent and educated way is done! I've always wanted to be fluent in Filipino but it tends to be too formal for everyday talk. I co-hosted a wedding reception with cousins once and they said that Taglish is better because it's informal. The Randy David influence forced me to write the script without code switching. And since I was no good in  informal Filipino, I just wrote in English.