WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Magis and the search to know more

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/03 October) — One of the priceless pleasures we classroom instructors get is in seeing the student use what we teach as tools he would employ in order to further his pursuit to know that which he is passionate about. The self-directed quest is the way one acquires the kind of knowledge that he could teach to others with his eyes closed. We would teach that with a beatific smile on our lips while waxing eloquent about some obscure point that heretics to the discipline would find probably boring with a capital B.

Ah, well.

Teaching is like having kids. Sometimes, the parent is the only one who can appreciate how truly remarkable the young have grown to be. But it does lend a warm glow in the region of the heart to know the young would be all right when you let them go.

Suffice it to say that I am quite proud of my students. I find gratifying their capacity to learn and their barely contained enthusiasm to show it. And like parenting, I often think of the limited time I have with them to give them the tools they need for life, for the career they choose, for the professional reputation they would build for themselves. I think in terms of the world they would have to come to terms with, and how I could possibly help them understand it enough for them to see what they could do to make it a better place while remaining humble and curious and grateful.

Teaching psychological research methodologies this semester has given me a view of what this generation of learners wants to know more about.

Randolph Reserva wants to dissect the psychology of everyday heroism. Like the great Philip Zimbardo, he understands that the bad situation can bring out the worst in people. Like the great Zimbardo, he wants to better understand how the worst situation can bring out the best in ordinary people. Examining RR’s proposed four-stage data treatment plan had me thinking maybe I should advise him to downscale to the normal expectations for an undergrad paper. This is Ateneo de Davao University, however. Our students are expected to hew to the value of magis. In layman’s terms, that means to strive for more. So if RR claims to be ready to do it this way, fine.

Kiara Rioferio, Cha Ferraris, Roge Lelis and Thessa Basilio want to do content and discourse analysis on Internet threads sparked by the Davao Punch. Some of us cyber morons who never bother with trending, tweeting, Facebooking, YouTubing, or blogging would never get to understand just how influential the Internet is on personal opinion and social behavior. This, however, is how this generation of learners lives their daily lives and they’re likely to bring this with them when they get out of here to vote for the next mayor of Davao City.

Nico, Maggie, and company who dearly love their grandparents propose to study the life satisfaction and experiences of the elderly in assisted living facilities. Yes, we’ll all grow old. It’s never too early for them to learn all about it.

Two groups intend to examine the impact of the 29 June 2011 flashflood on the coping strategies of affected communities in Matina. Jed and his group think it would be worthwhile to examine the factor of hope, while Jane and company would like to assess for PTSD risk. I can almost see where each group is headed after graduation.

Cid took time off from school last year to work at a call center. He noticed how this sunshine industry has democratized employment opportunities for the mixed demographics of the Filipino workforce. He’s dragging Ria along to examine how workplace discrimination finds expression in this milieu.

Blessie has been involved in community efforts for adolescent reproductive health education. She feels strongly the need for her thesis group to find effective strategies for information, communication, and education that could be used for high school students in efforts to bring down HIV stigma and get the young to be more receptive to the need to raise awareness and seek help when necessary.

Clyd, Aljean, Eleanor, and Dyan want to see how Family Court judges view forensic representation in cases for nullity of marriage and legal separation, among others. They aim to turn up the state of forensic representation thus far for implications on the standards set by Republic Act 10029 that professionalizes the practice of psychology.

Patrick and friends want to test out ways to enhance the emotional stability of children who had been exposed to armed conflict situations in their communities. Kim and Q are still wrestling with the research design for investigating social positioning on the Mindanao peace process discourse. So, too, are Ellen and company who still have to get back to me on how to take on Sex Education. Hopefully, by the end of this week, they would have clarified how to go about their respective proposals so they do not end the semester with a grade of INC casting gloom over their prospects for a restful semestral break.

Meanwhile, working with them on developing their research proposals has given me an education on a host of topics. I now know more than I would have if my education on these various issues were entirely up to me.

Our program coordinator Orange Lozada remarked on the novelty and diversity of the topics and methodologies that this graduating batch is proposing. Indeed, the seniors haven’t limited themselves to replicating the traditional experimental design on more run-of-the-mill areas of psychological investigation. They proposed more elaborate qualitative methodologies, while those who opted for quantitative designs appended value-added elements such as the development of training designs or the conduct of qualitative interviews and group process.

The second outing of Synapse, the first and only undergraduate research journal of psychology in the region, promises to be a bumper harvest of student reports. It pleases me to know that our students are off to a fine start. (Wayward and Fanciful is Gail Ilagan’s column for MindaViews, theopinion section of MindaNews. Ilagan teaches Social Justice, FamilySociology, Theories of Socialization and Psychology at the Ateneo deDavao University where she is also the associate editor of Tambara. You may send comments to [email protected] “Send at the risk of areply,” she says.)

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