May 30, 2017

Forming character

ONE of the important goals of education is to form the character of children. It is that part of a person that provides stability and direction in his life and everything in it, starting with the way one thinks, his attitudes and his reactions to things in general.

A person, of course, is a very dynamic being, but he needs to have a sense of permanence and confidence. He needs to be rooted and moored in some sound foundations and oriented to some clear and good goals. He just cannot be drifting aimlessly, twisting in the wind.

A person needs to have an over-all view of life. He has to have a good idea of where he comes from and where he is supposed to go. He has to find meaning and purpose in everything. In fact, he has to know what man is really all about. In this, he cannot and should not be left in the dark for long.

Thus, we have to feel the need to be clear about who and what we are. This involves our core beliefs and faith. Let’s try to be professional and serious about this, avoiding being amateurish and sophomoric. And so we have to understand that we have to be committed to a global view of man and life.

For this, our Christian faith gives us the whole thing—from man’s creation to his eternal destiny. We have to be wary of some attractive ideologies that offer partial truths that often get distorted and exploited for some ulterior motives.

In short, we have to be committed to our Christian faith, for it contains the whole truth and mystery of man, and goes much further than any man-made ideology can offer. Commitment to our Christian faith should not remain on the intellectual level only. It has to involve our whole life with all our powers and faculties.

So everyone has to work to form the right character for oneself and for others. With respect to the children,  the task is a long, tedious process that has to go in several stages, typically slow, even meandering, in accordance to the rhythm of life itself, but it should be abiding and relentless.

Good knowledge on shifting gears is definitely a necessity here, since we are going to meet all kinds of terrains, challenges, circumstances and other factors and conditionings.

Since children are not aware of the need to form their own character, their parents and teachers have to gradually make them aware of it. In the end, it is the children themselves who are the primary agents in forming their own character.

The responsibility of the parents and teachers is undoubtedly big and indispensable, but at best secondary. To the children, parents are the primary educators. Teachers just help. Both need to coordinate very closely with each other.

For sure, they need to make time for this all-important duty. This cannot be treated as a sideline only. They need time to be with the children, and time for their planning and meetings.

For this reason, parents and teachers should be clear about what is involved in forming the character of the children. They have to know what education is really all about.

Then, of course, they have to know the many, endless details of the techniques and methods involved, when to be strict, when to be lenient, etc. They have to realize then that they need formation themselves and that their formation as educators also has to go on. It should be an endless affair.

For sure, education just cannot be understood as imparting some knowledge and skills to the children. It covers a whole lot more. Many considerations have to be made—the temperament and psychology of the children, the close monitoring of their behavior, etc.

As educators, parents and teachers have to be knowledgeable not only about the subjects involved in education, but also about the appropriate ways to educate children. They need to combine a wide range of qualities—patience, cheerfulness, toughness, optimism, naturalness, openness and flexibility, etc.

They have to be good at motivating, since children respond so favorably to this that we can say that their growth and development would depend largely on the motivation they receive especially from parents and children.

They have to feel appreciated and loved, needed and important. Even when they have to be corrected, they should realize by the way we do the correction that they are in fact loved and needed, never rejected.

This, I think, is how they form their character and acquire both human and Christian maturity.

Run with the Titans

RUNNING PARENTS. Veteran runners Dr. Potenciano "Yong" Larrazabal III (seated, third from right) and wife Donna Cruz (second from right) will lead some 2,000 runners in PAREF Springdale's first foray in running.

FOOTBALL FOOTBALL powerhouse Paref Springdale will take a stab at running as it hosts its first road race dubbed Run with the Titans on Nov. 20 at Parkmall, Mandaue. The event, which will be headed by the parents of the Grade 3 students, is held in connection with the school’s tradition of celebrating its own Father’s Day.

Titan, a moniker used for Springdale students, inspired this year’s batch to create a project of organizing a running event. “It’s the first time we’re doing a run. It is part of our efforts of getting known in Cebu not only in football but also in running,” said Ric Ampiloquio, who is the Paref Springdale school director. 

They will have a 15K, 7K and 3K divisions, while the sprint events will be exclusive for students. Grades 1 and 2 students will have the 200-meter sprint, Grades 3 to 7 will have the 300-meter sprint, while the high school students will have the 500-meter sprint.

They will also have a separate 7K division for teachers and parents.

The run will raise funds for its beneficiary Kaabag Foundation, which holds a feeding program every Monday among 80 kids from different barangays. The school also partners with them every December for their own feeding program.

“We wanted to expose the kids to the society’s conditions,” said James Co, who heads the committee on marketing and logistics.

Also a proud parent of his third-grader Cian, Dr. Potenciano “Yong” Larrazabal III, chairman of the Run for Sight, will make sure that most of the needs of the runners will be provided.

The registration fee is P300 for the 15K, 7K and 3K.

Registration period will start next week at Parkmall, Center for Sight Cebu Doctors’ University Hospital and Shell Station Lahug until a few days before the race.

The run is expected to gather more than 2,000 runners, and the students will be required to attend as Nov. 20 will also be the school’s family day.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 14, 2011.

Paolo Pascual: Being a part of the Azkals is a very, very big achievement

MANILA, Philippines — Yannick Tuason and Paolo Pascual leave everything behind for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play with the Azkals.

Paolo Pascual, goalkeeper: The other ‘Papa P’

He may not be Piolo, but Paolo Pascual now has his fair share of crazy, adoring fans since joining the Azkals as one of its newest homegrown recruits.

Paolo and the rest of the U-23 (Under 23) players are currently preparing for the Southeast Asian Games in November in Indonesia where he will be the first goalkeeper.

He is also getting back to fighting form after he dislocated his shoulder almost two months ago.
 
Photo grabbed with permission from Paolo's Facebook.

Paolo was just a regular Business and Entrepreneurship college junior at the University of San Carlos in Cebu when he got a call from the Philippine Football Federation asking him to try out for the Azkals.

While it’s already an achievement to try out with other experienced and talented players who come from the other parts of the globe, what sets Paolo apart is the fact that he made it to the national team at only 20 years old. The 5’11” Cebuano native has been training with the Azkals since January.

Paolo started playing football when he was seven years old at Paref Springdale School. He was a striker until Grade VII when his coach Mario Ceniza realized Paolo had the potential to be a good goalkeeper given his height. He has since played in Global Smartmatic FC and in the Philippine U-19 team that competed in China.

Paolo is supposed to be in fourth year college now, but because most of the trainings are conducted in Manila, he is now looking for a school in the capital city where he can continue his studies while he attends the national team trainings at the same time.

Even if he is away from home, Paolo relates that he is always reminded by his father to “always be an intelligent athlete” by balancing academics and sports.

How did you get into football? I started when I was seven years old, for school. Since then, I’ve been playing football in elementary, high school and college. It has always been my childhood dream to play football.

Who are your football idols? Being a goalkeeper, I look up to Iker Casillas. Locally, I look up to my partner, Eduard Sacapano. He has a good work ethic and he has been with the team for so long so I think he deserves to get noticed, he deserves credit.

How would you describe yourself as a player? A goalkeeper should have discipline and a good work ethic. You shouldn’t give up. Even up to the last minute, you should give it your all. Neil Etheridge gives us a lot of tips. When he’s here, he trains us. He’s got a lot of really, really good and useful tips.

What type of a student are you? I’m silent, kinda studious and friendly.

Was it a tough decision choosing between school and being part of the national football team? It is football for now. But I know you can’t get a living by just doing football. You have to earn after football also. So you need a college degree and all that to go through with life. I talked to my mom and dad about it first and I told them that this is just a once-in-alifetime experience. My parents have been very supportive. They’re the ones who have been encouraging me to join the Azkals.

Who inspires you during a game? Number one is God. Next is ‘yung mga na-achieve nung veteran teammates namin, all the Pinoys who have been with the Azkals ever since, like Roel Gener. Their dedication to the team and to the country is amazing.

Do you have any rituals before a game? I just pray.

How has football changed your life? Now that we’re part of the team, you should be more conscious about your health. That’s something to focus on.

What do you consider is your biggest achievement so far? I think being a part of the Azkals is a very, very big achievement already.

What was your craziest experience with a fan? In Barotac (Iloilo) it is pretty wild. The crowd there is rowdy compared to Manila. Here kasi, they keep things to themselves. There they would, they release. They do anything.

Are you single or in a relationship? I’m single.

What do you look for in a girlfriend? I like someone who is God-fearing and family-oriented.

The biggest sacrifice that you have to make as an Azkal? Being away from the family. I’m from Cebu and to move here to Manila is a big sacrifice for me.

What was the biggest adjustment for you coming from Cebu? The life and the family. Homesickness. In Cebu, I have everything there, you have a home, you’re family is there for you. But here, you have to be independent. You have to learn how to live on your own. You have to find ways to get by here in Manila. It was hard adjusting. But after probably a month, I got used to it already.

If you were not a football player, what would you be doing now? I will be studying. Get my business degree then maybe I’ll go become a pilot. It’s been my dream as well.

Do you think the Azkals will survive without the Fil-foreigners? I think we also need the Fil-foreigners. They bring a lot of experience to the team. But skills-wise, I think the pureblooded Filipinos have it.

What was your initial reaction when you saw your team captain, Aly Borromeo’s billboard? Good for him. I’m happy for him. If you have that kind of body, why not flaunt it. Aly has been with the team for so long already, he really deserves all the attention and fame that he has been getting now. Same with Ian (Araneta), Chieffy (Caligdong) and Role (Gener). I’m closest to them and Yannick (Tuason).

Is there a player in the team that you get intimidated by? In football, if you get intimidated, nothing will happen to you. You have to be strong.
 
Published in the Manila Bulletin on July 20, 2011.

Pages: Gio Gandionco’s dream: ‘Be like Rory’

By John Pages

TIGER Woods is outdated and passé. Today’s young golfers want to be like the 22-year-old Irish champion of the United States Open.

Take the son of Opep and Cora Gandionco. Only 16 years old, he possesses the confidence and maturity of Rory McIlroy.

Angelo Jose “Gio” Gandionco explained: “Rory inspired me to do better and to challenge myself; if Rory can do it, why can’t I? It may be tough to be the best or even get in the PGA Tour but if you have the will and desire, you can achieve it. Rory winning made me realize that it’s possible to win one of the biggest tournaments and beat the best. Like now, I’m touring America playing tournaments and I’m up against the best juniors. I know if I play my game I can beat them like Rory. If I focus on what I’m supposed to do and not get intimidated, I can win.”

Spunk, spirit, and self-assurance.

That’s Gio.

From the U.S., he e-mailed last week. “I just finished my first tournament this second trip here,” said Gio. “It’s the AJGA (American Junior Golf Association) Club Corp Mission Hills Desert Junior in Rancho Mirage (Palm Springs), California. Despite jet lag since I just arrived three days earlier and playing in 114-degree weather, I finished second with a score of 71-73-72, which is my best finish so far here. Most of the other players were from California. LJ Go (from Cebu) also played.”

Gio, a 2-handicapper who also idolizes Rickie Fowler (“He stands out with his fashion statement”), travels next to Pinehurst, North Carolina and Huntsville, Alabama. He then returns home to Cebu, where he is a fourth year high school student at Paref-Springdale (and a five-time Student Athlete Of The Year).

“Last April,” he added, “my mom’s family had a reunion in Hawaii so we went on to Texas to join a tournament at the Texas A&M University. I finished 14th (that was a highly-ranked junior event) and, at the PGA Golf Club in Florida, I finished in the top 10. Here in the U.S., there are 5,000 junior golf players… so I think I have been doing well.”

Gio started golf at the age of four. He used Little Tikes plastic golf clubs and his dad, Opep, who heads the family-owned giant Julie’s Bakeshop, was the person who taught his son how to swing.

By age 7, Gio joined golf events. But, he also had a similar interest in the Azkals game of football. He was Springdale’s striker. Finally, he had to choose. “When my soccer tournaments and golf coach’s schedules competed for my time,” he said, “I knew I had to make a choice. Although I enjoyed the team play in soccer with my friends, I knew it was golf I really loved! So at 11, I started to seriously work on my game.”

Mixing academics and sport has not been easy. “My schedule is very hectic,” said Gio, an honor student who consistently averages 90+. “But, I always try to put time for both practicing and studying. During schooldays, I get dismissed 4:30pm so I head to either the range or the golf course on MWF. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I work out in the gym. I get home 6:30pm, study, eat, sleep. It is not easy being a student-athlete; you have to learn how to manage your time well. Even while I’m away for a tournament, I still have to read books and do homework to prepare for tests.”

Gio’s dream? To play in the PGA Tour. But first, he says, “My goal in the medium term is to get a scholarship at a prestigious U.S. university. I would like to play college golf, at the same time graduate with a degree in Business.”

His best score? A 5-under par in a Men’s Amateur tournament late last year. “Although I am still working on my game,” he says, “my short game has always been my strength.

Every aspect of my game is still a work-in-progress, and I am open to learning and improving.”

As to the aspects of golf that he enjoys most, he answers, “I love every part of the game: the pressure, the challenge, the intimidation, the hard work, the difficulties that come everyday and, most of all, the feeling of knowing you’re improving.”

Only 16, Gio sounds like a very, very mature person.

Just like Rory.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu on July 7, 2011.

“There Be Dragons”

When you step inside a movie theater, you never know what’s going to happen… there in the dark, for an hour or two. A movie is a powerful thing, and There Be Dragons has already demonstrated the power to change the lives not only of viewers but also of actors. 

St Josemaria's life, like everyone else's, was made up of light and shadows. Through the whole of it his overwhelming desire was to be faithful to where God was taking him. This makes him a brilliant guide for others in the dark moments of their lives.

Charlie Cox himself, who plays St. Josemaría in the movie, told reporters: “My relationship with the Catholic Church and with God has certainly been profoundly affected for the better throughout this process.”

People have been writing personal testimonies to the website of St Josemaria Institute, describing the impact that the film had on their lives. Here are a few:

“I've been trying to forgive my mother all my life (…). On May 6 the topic of my therapy session was finding a way to forgive her, and that night I saw There Be Dragons. I chose to ask for St. Josemaria's intercessions, and since then, I have had nothing but good memories of her. I AM FREE of my dragon!!!” Cynthia

I leave wanting to be a better person
"Thank you, Roland Joffé. You have managed that a person, at the end of the film, is left with desires to be a better person and with the clear idea that it is not worth letting yourself be carried away by your passions. To behave in a decent, human way will at times lead to suffering, and acting badly perhaps has some advantages and saves you some blows in life . . . but it is not worth it. Thank you for this beautiful film.-José Ignacio

“Gentlemen: I am writing to thank you for having made this film. A few weeks ago I called a friend of mine to tell him that my wife and I had decided to divorce. We have a daughter. This friend told me: "Before you do that, you have to watch There Be Dragons." I went to see the movie with my wife, accompanied by this friend. We left the theater crying and unable to speak. We spent all that night talking about it, because we realized that the problem was not in our relationship as husband and wife, but that we had not been able to identify and overcome our own inner dragons. The real problems were in each one of us. So we have decided to focus our struggles on that, to overcome our dragons, and not to talk about divorce any more. We have also decided to try to have a new child.” Enrique Lorenzo

For more messages from viewers here

Single-gender Schooling

The comparative benefits of single-sex and coeducational schooling have been much debated over the past 50 years. The proponents of single-sex education argue that boys and girls have differing needs and that their styles of learning are different. They point to data demonstrating the comparative under-performance of both boys and girls in co-ed classrooms. Proponents of coeducation argue that mixed education is more in keeping with the mores of modern Western society, and that children from co-ed schools are better adjusted. Both contend that their own approach is truly holistic.

The debate has a social component as well. Coeducation is sometimes regarded as a solution to the failure of the modern family to provide sufficiently for the effective socialization and moral development of children. The financial savings of using shared facilities have led governments to amalgamate formerly single-sex schools and open new co-ed schools, both public and private. In some countries governments have told independent schools to embrace coeducation or forfeit public funding.

A new element in the debate is widespread agreement that somehow education is failing boys. Boys are generally outperformed by girls; statistics of self harm and depression amongst boys are alarming; there seems to be a growing alienation of boys from their parents and fathers in particular. Psychologists write of the “father hunger” of boys who grow up without sufficient input from their natural father.

As Western society strives for gender equality, everyone has become more alert to the unfairness of discrimination on the basis of sex. This argument is used by both sides. Proponents of single-sex education argue that only through single-sex education are the specific needs of boys and girls met. Proponents of coeducation argue that coeducation ensures equity of access to educational facilities and courses. Single-sex education supporters reply that equality of the sexes does not necessitate identical provision for males and females, and that the best way of attending to the needs of boys and girls is to offer them facilities and courses that satisfy their unique requirements.

The advantages of single-sex education

Boys and girls are wired to learn in different ways
It seems beyond dispute that boys and girls learn at different paces and in different ways. This is not a matter of gender bias, but of experience verified time and again by psychological research. The view from the 1970s that gender traits are mere cultural constructs has been discredited. Cross-cultural studies over the past 30 years reveal that gender differences across the wide variety of cultures are remarkably constant1.

Here are some relevant differences. According to a 2001 study2, women use the right and left hemispheres of the brain to process language; men use only the left hemisphere. In general men are more likely to use one area of the brain for a given activity; women are more likely to use more of the brain. Studies show that women respond to directions that include data about what they will see and hear; men prefer abstract directions3 . Girls’ brains develop through adolescence so that girls are better able to discuss their feelings; boys’ brains do not. Research is revealing major physiological differences in the brains of even pre-adolescent boys and girls 4 . For example, seven-year-old girls hear better than boys 5.

These physical differences lead to differences in the way boys and girls learn. Teachers need to encourage girls, while boys need a reality check. Direct challenging works well with boys and they tend to respond to clear boundaries. Emotional activity is processed in a completely different part of the brain in older girls compared with older boys. It has been suggested that girls respond more innately to literature and that they more easily make links between ideas and emotions. In stories, girls tend to respond to nuances of character, boys to action 6. Role-playing exercises allowing a student to explore character work particularly well for girls. Inductive exercises allowing girls to act hypothetically also work well. There is evidence that boys respond more to structured lessons, finite tasks, and perhaps to the more abstract. Girls tend to respond more readily to group work and team work. One fascinating study suggests that under certain circumstances stress has a beneficial effect on male learning, but that it can impair the learning of a female, and that this characteristic is wired in the male brain from before birth7.

Most children learn better in a single-sex environment
On average, children in single-sex education outperform children of comparative ability in co-ed contexts. In a 20-year Australian study of 270,000 students, Ken Rowe found that both boys and girls performed between 15 and 22 percentile points higher on standardised tests when they attended single-sex schools.8  The National Foundation for Educational Research in England9  found that, even after controlling for student ability and other background factors, boys and girls performed significantly better academically in single-sex schools than in co-ed schools. Students in Jamaica attending single-sex schools outperformed students in co-ed schools in almost every subject tested.10  A 1997 study by Jean and Geoffrey Underwood showed that girl-girl pairings performed best on tasks, and that girl-boy pairings tended to depress the achievement of the girls involved.11 

Boys and girls experience the benefits of schooling in different ways. British studies suggest that females more than males benefit academically from single-sex education: they participate more in class, develop higher self esteem, score higher in aptitude tests, are more likely to choose sciences and other male domains at tertiary level, and are more successful in careers. Research suggests that boys dominate the classroom in a co-ed environment. Boys can behave more loudly. Some research has shown that girls receive fewer encouraging comments than boys in co-ed environments. Studies by Cornelius Riordan suggest that children from underprivileged backgrounds are the greatest beneficiaries of single-sex schooling.12  The message of all this research is simple: there are no differences in what girls and boys can learn, but here are big differences in the best way to teach them.

Single-sex education meets the needs of boys better
Boys and girls have different needs and education which respects personal differences must take this into account. On a practical level, the intuitively directed and affectively oriented styles of learning which suit most girls are not always compatible with the more structured and practical approaches which appeal to boys. Single-sex schooling allows teachers to tailor their teaching style to the boys and facilitates a more rounded educational experience. In a co-ed school, boys can opt out of curriculum areas where they would be out-performed.

Furthermore, there is evidence that mixed classrooms can discriminate against either boys and girls depending on the subject, the gender of the teacher, the teacher’s methodologies, and the prevailing culture in the school. Some schools have now started running single-sex classrooms in English and other humanities subjects to improve the performance of boys. The pilot study that demonstrated improved performance of boys in this context has been known as the Cotswold Experiment.13 

Single-sex education meets the needs of girls better
Single-sex education has clear benefits for girls. In the first place, it often gives them expanded educational opportunities by allowing them to pursue non-traditional disciplines for girls such as mathematics or science. Single-sex schooling also offers more opportunities to girls to exercise leadership. When girls and boys are in the same classroom, the boys tend to dominate and overshadow equally talented girls.

On an emotional level, single-sex education puts less pressure on girls, especially in adolescence. At that age, girls are more prone than boys to suffer from low self esteem. It is difficult to manage this issue in a co-ed climate when boys dominate in the classroom and when they receive more recognition, allowance for misbehaviour and encouragement.

Single-sex education makes greater provision for gender role modeling
The shortage of male teachers in the primary classroom is a concern in many countries. In the first six years of school, many boys in co-ed schools seldom encounter a male teacher. Because children imitate those they admire, it is common sense to ensure that boys and girls find in their teachers truly admirable role models. The example of professionalism, values and consistently positive behaviour is most important. But there are other aspects of example that are gender-specific. A boy learns what it means to be a man from his father, but this is reinforced if there are other admirable men in his life. This is also true for girls and their female teachers.

Single-sex schooling allows boys and girls to mature at their own pace
Girls mature earlier than boys: they are better behaved, more diligent and more sensible and they find it easier to relate to the adult world. For all these reasons, it is often argued that girls exert a civilising influence on boys. Whilst this may be true in some situation, the converse is also true: boys can uncivilise girls. When adolescent girls and boys study together, there is much evidence that a proportion will end up distracted from their work.

Single-sex schooling is often criticised for reinforcing negative images of masculinity. Unfortunately this can even happen in co-ed schools. The problem is not solved by bringing girls and boys together, but by vigilantly managing the culture in a school and sub-groups in the school.

Single-sex schooling does not handicap children socially
There is no evidence that children who have attended co-ed schools enter adult relationships that are more stable or fulfilling with the opposite sex. Assertions that children from co-ed backgrounds are better prepared for adult life seem to be flawed. There is a higher rate of unplanned pregnancies (and by implication, of terminated pregnancies) for girls in co-ed schools. One study has shown that students from single-sex schooling are not noticeably thwarted in the development of relationships with the opposite sex either at school or later at university.14

Coeducation can allow socialising to complicate intellectual development. Of course a positive school culture and the superior training of teachers can work against this. But it is difficult to protect impressionable young people from the images of precocious intimacy that saturate the media. Since emotional attraction and physical attraction works first of all at the level of physical proximity, there seems a strong argument to separate a teenager’s academic world from his or her social world. In a coeducational secondary classroom the lines between social life and school can become blurred. Single-sex education allows children to think about things “other than their hormones”.

Single-sex schooling makes it easier to be a good parent
Single-sex schools also provide parents with an opportunity to manage more effectively the social development of their children, particularly in the early years. It makes it easier for them to impart education about sexual matters in a way consistent with their values. Of course when parents choose to send their children to single-sex schools they will need to have much more initiative in providing for the social development of their children. They should set up many opportunities for boys to mix with girls in a family setting during childhood, well before they turn 14 or 15. It is very late to be starting to talk with a child about these issues once he or she has reached mid secondary school.

An undeniable problem for all families is the gulf between home life and a teenager’s social world. Children must feel they can bring their friends home. Coeducational schooling does little to help because it creates a social environment which is totally beyond the parents’ knowledge and largely outside their control. Unhappily when youth culture becomes divorced from family life, a certain percentage of children are sure to end up badly damaged.

Even if single-sex schooling is better for children, it demands more of their parents because they have to take responsibility for helping their children acquire mature social skills. It is easier for parents who send their children to co-ed schools to shirk this responsibility, even though this is not a task which can be delegated to anyone else. Indeed, the notion that parents can wash their hands of the problems of teenage social life may account for some of the popularity of co-ed education. But although relinquishing their leadership role might make parents’ lives easier, the children often suffer from their neglect. 

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