This week, Academic Year 2014-2015 begins at University of the Philippines Diliman. It is one of the exciting moments of my teaching career in the University. This is the first semester that I will be teaching as an assistant professor. This semester will also be the first time I will be handling two higher political science courses, namely, POLSC 151 and 160. I will elaborate on this courses later. Lastly, I am excited because I will be teaching again, after four seemingly long months of vacation.
I am back in business, but now as an assistant professor. It is not really a big deal. It is a rank or designation given to those who have a Master’s degree and up. For the past three years of teaching at UP, I was a teaching associate. Technically, I am not a member of the faculty, and only a student drafted to handle Social Science II (Social, Economic, and Political Thought) courses in exchange of scholarship (free tuition) and stipend (for books and other expenses).
After earning my MA (Political Science) in 2013, I was reclassified as a Senior Lecturer. The title is deceiving. Senior would usually refer to someone older. Senior in this case means that the lecturer has a Master’s degree or higher. As a Senior Lecturer, I handled one section of Political Science 14 (Philippine Government and Politics), with 13 students, all of whom are from UP Visayas Tacloban College. It was a last minute decision to teach the course because of the unexpected demand. UPVTC students were those affected by Typhoon Yolanda, and cross registered in UPD.
Effective June this year, I was appointed Assistant Professor. The title bears with it a huge amount of responsibility. I was used to handling two sections per semester as a TA. Now, as a full-time regular faculty, I was assigned to teach four sections, equivalent to 12 units. The 12-unit load is prescribed by the Board of Regents, and found in the Faculty Manual.
Aside from the academic work load, I was also assigned to head the department’s information and communications technology committee, and represent the department in the college’s ICT committee. There are other committees where I was assigned, mostly in relation to the 2015 Centennial Year celebrations of the Department.
Again, it is nothing big; it is more of a challenge, and I am ready to face the challenge.
POLSC 151 and 160
Aside from two sections of POLSC 14, I am assigned to handle two major courses: POLSC 151, an elective; and POLSC 160, a core course on political dynamics. The former hasn’t been taught regularly, and no syllabus is found on file. The latter is required for all students. These conditions poses a challenge for me as an academic, and as a teacher.
Both courses are under my areas of specialisation, based on my areas during my graduate course work. I focused on Philippine government and politics and political dynamics. It shouldn’t be hard then. But there is some pressure I might be imposing on myself. I initially thought I would handle two Soc Sc II sections, and another two of POLSC 14.
POLSC 151 is about the Philippine Executive. Given the current turn of events, it should be very interesting both for me and my students. The present dynamics of the president, the presidency, and the government at large, provide fitting examples, if not the best, for my class. The challenge, however, is finding the proper reading materials to tickle their minds.
Studies on Philippine presidency, unlike the legislature, and to some extent the judiciary, are very limited. Thematic discussions on the Philippine executive are rare, and the literature provides only biographical or historical appreciation of the presidency. This means that studies made were very institutional, in the old sense, and limited to legal framework, i.e. constitution. While this could be seen as a weakness, this could also be a strength. Students can write their papers with a more thematic approach, using various theories in studying the presidency.
POLSC 160 is roughly a more political science version of political sociology. It main revolves around society, politics, and government. It is a core course in Area II: Political Dynamics. As a core course, it serves as an introduction to the wide array of sub-fields such as power, nations, citizenship, the state, gender and identity politics, elections and political parties, interest groups and social movements, globalisation, and democratisation.
Admittedly, there are lessons or topics which I am confident as well as not confident to discuss. The materials I gathered and will be using are highly conceptual. I hope my students will be able to catch up and me, too! I will also be requiring a paper where they can discuss a problem relating to society and politics. The current global situation is a matrix of issues that can be analysed using various concepts touched in the duration of the semester.
What could be more fun than to enter a classroom again! The four-month vacation, I believe, was so long there were moments I honestly got bored and have nothing else to do. I initially planned to read novels, but when I am about to, work started pouring in. Nevertheless, it was a fruitful vacation on my part, but it could have been more fruitful, I guess.
Since I haven’t taught for a long while, I am wondering how will I be teaching starting Thursday. Maybe the first two days could be introductions, but the following week is when formal lessons begin. I asked myself, can I still teach? I said, yes I do. I still can. In fact, I am very excited about the idea.
I fervently hope that my students will be as industrious and conscientious as they can be. Classes cannot fully realise its potential without student participation, just like running an organisation, the government or a corporation.