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The real pasaways

The local internet came down hard last week on an anonymous teacher who was caught on livestream giving her students a scorching tongue-lashing for what she claimed was their lack of respect and discipline. Almost hysterical, Teacher X called them good-for-nothings without a future. Predictably, netizens deplored her derogatory language, which they equated with child abuse, and called on the Department of Education to investigate the incident and impose some disciplinary measure on the teacher concerned.

I agree that Ma’am seems to have gone overboard in expressing her displeasure over her students’ misbehavior, and that she could have been more circumspect in her choice of words. I’m certain that DepEd – which happens to be headed by someone who doesn’t mince words herself when it comes to court sheriffs – will use her case to remind teachers of the need for exemplary behavior, if not some sweetness and light, in classroom management.

At the same time, having been a teacher myself for 40 years, I can imagine and understand the exasperation that must have gone into a titanic diatribe like that. I’ve never taught in elementary or high school, where these aggravations come in spades on both sides of the teacher’s table, but I’ve heard and read enough to know what a cauldron of high emotions a Filipino classroom can be in the worst of circumstances.

Let’s pack a room meant for 20 students with twice that number or even more, with the heat from a tin roof bearing down on everyone (or, in another season, rain leaking down onto desks and textbooks). The teacher recites her lesson in a funereal monotone, expecting her students (who keep themselves awake by sneaking glances at TikTok on their phones) to regurgitate what she has just said: “Class, how do you pronounce a-DO-le-scent?”

Not that she truly cares what they say, because her mind’s on the box of chocolates she has to buy for the supervisor whose signature she needs for her salary loan. She’ll spend half that loan on a fence around her garden to keep the roaming pigs and pissing drunks away, and the other half on a new cellphone because her arch-rival Mrs. Buenafe has one that can take selfies without the