By Ma. Teresa Montemayor
MANILA — While most educators use the latest technological advancements to engage their students in the classroom, Dr. Jesus Insilada uses community culture that was once buried, to keep his poor students from dropping out of school and to believe in themselves as valuable members of society.
The 39-year-old principal of Caninguan National High School in Iloilo initiated culture-based teaching to help his students belonging to the Panay Bukidnon Indigenous Peoples (IPs) learn and perform better academically.
The culture-based teaching method
Culture-based education involves teaching strategies that integrate every aspect of community culture and traditions in learning academic lessons.
“For example, in teaching mathematical concepts like arithmetic sequence, we use embroidery designs in our clothes that students are familiar with,” Insilada said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
He said using things that are around them makes learning easier for the students.
“We encourage the use of those things to make lessons a lot easier, I use multi-media presentation in my class, I show videos, then we’d sing our local songs or epic or we will dance Binanog and we’ll integrate these into our lessons,” Insilada added.
When it comes to classroom management, he revisits their framework as Panay-Bukidnon IPs. Instead of getting mad at disobedient or unruly students, he reminds them of the values their elders or parents have taught at home, which include respect for persons in authority or teachers.
“Paano ba dinidisiplina nung mga elders, parents ang kanilang mga anak? Sinusundan natin yung framework. Dapat sa salita natin saktong sakto lang, tapos we really have to have word of honor na kung anong sinasabi natin dapat consistent tayo, binabalikan natin ang values na dapat nirerespeto ang teachers (How do elders, parents discipline their children? We follow the frame. We use just the right words. We really have to have a word of honor that we are consistent with what we say. We go back to the values that teachers must be respected),” Insilada said.
Meanwhile, Insilada clarified that culture-based teaching is not against technology. As an educator, he also knows the importance of adapting to modernization.
However, he encourages his co-educators to make do with available resources. To him, complaining and looking for the things the school lacks is a big waste of time.
“Even if we’re using culture-based teaching, we also know the importance of adapting to modernization. Pero kasi ginagamit lang namin kung anong available. Hindi na kami naghahanap ng kung anong wala, time is wasted (Even if we’re using culture-based teaching, we also know the importance of adapting to modernization. But we only use what is available. We don’t look for anything that’s not there, time is wasted,” Insilada said.
He shared that he also encourages his students to use cell phones and the internet but with emphasis on not abusing their use.
“Ang mga students, gumagamit na rin ng Facebook. Nagagamit ‘yun as platform. Sa ngayon, if they need to ask questions when it is past our contact time with the children, they can send a message. Pero ine-emphasize din namin na dapat hindi naa-abuse ang technology (Our students also use Facebook. It is used as a platform. So now, if they need to ask questions when it is past our contact time with the children, they can send a message. But we emphasize that technology must not be abused),” Insilada pointed out.
Champion of the IPs
Insilada recalled he felt inferior growing up because he was often underestimated for being a poor child and an indigenous student.
Because of these experiences, Insilada reminds his students to study well as he believes education is an equalizer of social classes. Moreover, he encourages his students to be achievers to avoid the pains of social exclusion.
“I tell them na ayusin nila ang pag–aaral nila. Sinasabi nilang mahirap sila pero sinasabi ko education is an equalizer, you will be empowered if you’re educated. ‘Di lang ‘yun, I urge them to be achievers, since we’re IPs some people will exclude us but if we are talented and very special, people will have to include us. (I tell them to study well. They say they are poor but I tell them education is an equalizer. You will be empowered if you are educated. Also, I urge them to be achievers. Since we’re IPs, some people will exclude us but if we are talented and very special, people will have to include us),” he explained.
Insilada said the poor and the indigent students have a special place in his heart. This why his eyes are focused on helping them improve their present conditions through education, despite the many challenges coming his way.
“Anong mangyayari kung walang teacher na would stand up for them, would really try his or her best, and a teacher who will be an inspiration to go on despite the challenge. Mai-inspire ka sa kanila na lumalakad ng dalawang oras. Yun pa lang, mai-inspire ka to give the best you can. Nandoon sila to endure, to persevere in spite of kahirapan (What will happen if no one would stand up for them, would really try his or her best, and a teacher who will be an inspiration to go on despite the challenges. You will be inspired by them who walk two hours to school. That alone will inspire you to do the best you can. They are there to endure, to persevere in spite of poverty),” Insilada said.
Believing that teachers should be problem solvers and not whiners, Insilada also gives money to some students who are below the poverty line.
“Minsan kulang sa pera. Minsan kapag nagkasakit na yung estudyante kelangan pa natin magbigay. Pero ako, tinitingnan ko na lang ang maging positibo. Hindi ko iniisip na mawawalan ako dahil bilang guro dapat nagso-solve tayo ng problema (Sometimes there’s not enough money. Sometimes you need to provide for students who are sick. But I always choose to be positive. I no longer think that I’ll be lacking because as a teacher I should be a problem solver),” Insilada said.
One of the best teachers in the world
Insilada’s culture-based education and genuine love for his community, especially the Panay Bukidnon IPs, landed him one of the top ten spots in the Global Teacher Prize award of The Varkey Foundation.
Insilada has won the Carlos Palanca award multiple times for his Hiligaynon short stories. He received the 2017 Princess Maha Chakri Award and was one of the 2014 Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Teachers.
He was also a national awardee for “The Many Faces of the Teacher” of the Bato Balani Foundation, Inc. in 2013. (PNA)