Thursday, November 23, 2006

what's in a title?



below is my insideout column for the month of november...

Sir.
Encarta Dictionary defines the word above as “the British way to address a man teacher.” The word, I found out, is a variation of the rather archaic sire which was a respectful address to a king or a lord.
Having been given a privilege to teach in the college department (at present, I am teaching Foundations of Education 101 and 103), my students address me “Sir.”
For somebody who has dreamt of becoming an educator, the three-letter word is rather melodious. It evokes not only a sense of authority over my students, but of reliance in my capability to lead the class into achieving the objectives I outlined in the course syllabus.
Back in the seminary, I am not addressed as such despite the fact that last semester I was practically a teacher to half of my brother-seminarians having taught Educational Research and English as a Second Language to the third years and Communication Arts and Philippine History to the first years, who, back then, happened to be my batchmates.
No, my brother-seminarians are not bunch of ill-mannered fellows. In fact, just like the externs (college students who are not seminarians), I recognized their great sense of respect toward me while I am inside the classroom as their teacher. They come on time, they pass their assignments on time (well, some of them), and they participate well in our academic discussions.
Yes, the word “sir” may be pleasant to one’s ear, it may command a great sense of respect, however, it suggests detachment and formality. With this title, the inferiors may be restricted to approach the person addressed as “sir,” for there is a barrier called formality.
Don’t get me wrong, formality is not at all bad. At many times, we need it, since it guides us to respect certain conventions that govern people’s behavior, it smoothens relationships, and it facilitates tasks that needed to be carried out. However, in my humble opinion, the seminary is a home, and the people who live there are called family.
And in this family, I am fondly called “Kuya.”
I guess, in all respect, being a “kuya” surpasses what a “sir” is. I am a sir in the college grounds because it is my role as a teacher. Kuya, on the other hand, is not earned because of one’s extraordinary abilities, for I believe, it is a title that is freely given.
The word does not only conjure respect, for being “kuya” evokes a specific duty to be responsible for my younger siblings: No, not just with checking the grammar and content of their papers once in while, not just in lending them reference materials when they are in dire need of some.
I believe that the greatest responsibility of a ‘kuya” is to show what a good example is not just through my words, but more so, through my deeds.
In the future, I may be reverently addressed “Brother” or even “Father.” But for now, Kuya is equally sweet and it brings great joy to my heart.