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On Graduating From Top Universities and the Principle of “Fair Judging”

graduationUpon completion of their basic education, the next step for young people in the Philippines (and elsewhere)  is to choose a tertiary institution where they will spend the next four years or so to pursue the undergraduate degree they dream of completing. Given the chance, they would choose to enroll in one of the top 10, if not top 5, colleges or universities  in the country…better yet, in the world. Making it to the premiere universities and colleges is the dream of majority of those graduating from high school (and their respective parents and guardians).

Parents, no matter how expensive, would try their best to send their children to the tertiary institutions who are tops in the ranking. Even for basic education they enroll their kids to the most reputable schools. They inculcate in the young minds of their children the need to strive harder than the others so they would graduate in high school at the top of their class with GWAs acceptable in the universities they are targeting. And their children follow them like good soldiers heeding the marching orders of their generals.

The foregoing is a manifestation of how society have embraced the idea that when students graduate from highly-ranked universities their success is guaranteed and their future bright. What could have permeated that notion are classified ads trumpeting that only graduates of “this and that” university may apply for certain job openings. Such hiring policy is “not giving priority to alumni of top-notch universities but it “is giving ONLY them” the chance  to fill up positions and vacancies in companies and organizations.

Business entities who implement the policy aforementioned cannot be faulted. It is a simple exercise of prerogative. If they want to hire only those who could present diplomas and transcript of records minted in their “preferred colleges and universities” there’s nothing that anybody can do against that.  They consider it their right to do so.

But is it so?

When reason is allowed to prevail, there are rights that supersede other rights. And in nations where, indeed,  reason prevails, every individual has the right to equal employment opportunities. In the Philippines for instance, this is a right guaranteed by the constitution (1987 Philippine Constitution – Art. 13, Sec. 3)[1]. So, the policy of not allowing graduates of tertiary institutions not belonging to the “preferred list” to apply is not just discriminatory, it’s also unconstitutional.

In the United States it is illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of the person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or generic information. [2] Discriminatory practices under Federal laws  include employment decisions based on stereotypes or assumptions about abilities. [3] Employers thinking that graduates of university A is better than the graduates of university B is a form of stereotyping. It is an act of assuming that only those who graduate from university A have the potentials of contributing to the growth of a company or organization.

But why are graduates of low-ranking colleges and universities seemingly being looked down upon?

Are graduates of “whatever university” mere mortals and those who received their degrees from “supreme university” gods and goddesses? Would the latter become better persons and professionals after completing their training from their highly-ranked alma mater? Are the former just second best and meant to play second fiddle to the latter?

To say that graduates of top-ranked universities are better than those who received their diplomas from lesser-known schools is committing the fallacy of hasty generalization. Nobody can say which group is better. Graduating from a highly-ranked university doesn’t make one a better person and professional than those who sweat it out in lesser-known schools.

Employers need to observe the “principle of fair judging.” Applications should be judged on their merits. The  evaluation of the applicant should be in accord with the duties of the position; for example, for the job opening of choir director, the evaluation  may judge applicants based on musical knowledge rather than arbitrary  criterion such as hair color. [4]

“Education,” as Horace Mann puts it, “is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery.” The education offered by the universities provides “fair access to qualifications” [5]  intended to put applicants in equal footing before competition (for the job) begins. So, making a decision to hire based on “from-what-university” an applicant graduated is against equality of opportunity.

Graduates of  the best colleges and universities already have the best things in life. That’s the reason they could afford to pay exorbitant tuition fees and the high cost of board and lodging in cities. The ones studying in lower-ranked schools, especially those located in provinces, belong to indigent families pinning their hopes for a better life through education.

Those who have less in life need to be given a chance, at least an equal opportunity for employment.

At the vantage point of an employer, applicants for a job need to be evaluated using objective measures. The decision to hire should not be based on from what college or university they graduated.

This is not asking that graduates of lesser-known schools be given priority. Let the applicants, wherever they graduated, undergo the hiring process.

They must be asked to submit their resume and the corresponding documents and attachment. These papers, in one way or another, will reveal things about the applicants that will inform decisions to hire or not – that is if the ones evaluating the papers do not give special treatment to graduates coming from their preferred universities.

This is where the “blind hiring process” becomes very useful.  Blind hiring anonymizes or “blinds” demographic-related information about a candidate from the recruiter or hiring manager and eliminates the unconscious bias about the candidate’s age, gender, the  school they attended and so on [6].

The next steps would involve interview (or a series of interviews) and battery of tests. These parts of the hiring process will gradually show who’s who among the applicants.

What could be considered as the best part of the process is the demonstration of skills. The applicants need to actually show their repertoire of skills related to the job they are applying for.

The decision to hire must be based objectively on the over-all results. The alma mater of the applicants should not be factored. This way, the applicants are given equal employment opportunity.

Companies and organizations limiting their choices to graduates of top universities are also limiting their chances of possibly getting the best applicants. One thing certain, there are brilliant young people sharpening their minds and honing their skills in lesser-known colleges and universities outside of  the big cities and urban areas.

They are diamonds in the rough waiting to be mined and polished.

__________

[1] http://www.gov.ph/constitutions
[2] http://www.natlawreview.com/author/us-equal-employment-opportunity-commission
[3] https://www.eeoc.gov/facts/qanda.html
[4] Richard Arneson (Aug 29, 2008). “Equality of Opportunity”. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
[5] Mark Bevir (editor) (2010), Encyclopedia of Political Theory, SAGE Publications.
[6] https://ideal.com/blind hiring/

The Extra Mile Teachers Walk

teacher

Search any site in the internet for the highest paid professionals in the world and you will not find “teachers” in the top 30. Expand your search and look for the list of professions in different countries where the practitioners receive the best compensation packages and you will find out that teaching is not among them. You will not find a country where teachers are ranked among the highest money-earners.

Teaching not classified among the highest paying jobs, of course, is not surprising. That has been the case since time immemorial and it is not expected to change anytime soon. However, insufficient remuneration do not deter teachers from performing the role they have embraced. Such is only one of the steps in the extra mile that teachers need to walk when they have accepted that teaching is not merely a profession but a vocation. It is not merely a job to perform but an obligation to carry out.

Acknowledging that teaching is not merely a job but an obligation to carry out is what makes teachers go the extra mile, to do what is more than required in the performance of their tasks, including sacrificing personal resources…sometimes happiness. Teachers know the nature of the responsibility that they agreed to fulfill when they signed up for the job. They know it’s not easy. How in the world would one consider being responsible for the education of other people, especially the young ones, easy? When did it become easy to facilitate the acquisition of knowledge and values and the development of skills of your fellow human beings?

If only pay would be commensurate to how significant is one’s job in the enlightenment of the soul, the preservation and enhancement of the fabric of society, and the socio-economic development of a nation then teachers would get paid handsomely.

But it is what it is. Teaching is not a profitable profession. Realities teachers confront in the academe could really make them say a lot of things in the “present unreal conditional” form. There are times that they couldn’t also help but make a “wish-statement” like “I wish that I were a health care professional.”

Why?

Health care professionals (physicians, surgeons, anesthesiologists, dentists, etc.) consistently round out the top 10 in the lists of highest paid professionals.

What they (the medical practitioners) do, maintenance and restoration of  good health, is very important. For that, they deserve the pay they get. But nurturing the human spirit…helping a person achieve holistic development is as equally important, if not more important. What professional endeavor could be more meaningful than helping your fellow men achieve their full potential for them to become responsible human beings and productive members of society?

And not only are the teachers not getting the pay commensurate to the importance of the work they do and the effort they need to exert when doing their job, they don’t also get the recognition they deserve.

American society, for example, does not generally view teachers in the same way, as they view other professionals; the belief that “anyone can teach” is not found in other professions (i.e., not just anyone can play professional baseball, or be an accountant or engineer, or practice law or medicine.)1

Such is the indifference teachers, as professionals, are getting.

How true is the contention that “anyone can teach?” Those who know what it takes to become a teacher would say it is a fallacy.

Education is not just a matter of whether you can teach or not but also whether or not you can make the students learn. Even if a person is an expert in a field of learning it is not a guarantee that he can teach what he knows. Knowing something is different from knowing how to teach it.

Hiring just anyone to become a teacher would be a huge mistake. It takes a lot to become a teacher. Teachers undergo rigid training for them to hone their pedagogical skills. They read a lot knowing that teaching and learning are both grounded on Philosophy, Psychology, Sociology and other related fields. They know they need to be familiar not only in their field of expertise but with different principles and strategies to effectively deliver learning and teaching. They know that when they are done teaching they still have to evaluate the learning.

The list of the things that teachers need to know and to do is long. At the end of that long list are two characteristics that teachers need to develop if they wish to succeed in the profession – PASSION for their work and COMPASSION for the students.

How then in the world it becomes possible that just “anyone can teach?”

Be that as it may, teaching will forever be a NOBLE PROFESSION! Nothing can diminish its intrinsic value.

One thing for sure, all the successful professionals in the world – business executives, lawyers, architects, engineers, surgeons, physicians, dentists, nurses, brokers, etc. – know that their teachers contributed a thing or two into whatever they have become.

———-

1 Tichenor M.S., Tichenor, J.M. (2005). Understanding teachers’ perspective on professionalism. ERIC.

What Makes A Great Teacher

Some have wrongly thought that if they know a subject matter then they can teach it. Some have claimed the title teacher, mentor, professor or what-have-you just because they know a great deal in a field of study. It takes more than knowledge to become a teacher, a lot more to become a good one, and a whole lot more to be great.

Being good at Math doesn’t make one a Math teacher. Having a perfect accent and impeccable grammar doesn’t make a person an English teacher. And if by luck, accident, mistake or necessity, a person was given a teaching load by virtue of just being good at a particular field then that’s very unfortunate, a disservice to the teaching profession.

There’s a whale of difference between knowing a subject matter and knowing how to teach it. It is not a guarantee that when one is an expert in a domain of knowledge that he could be a  teacher in that field. Perhaps he has the potential to become one for he already possesses one of the requirements to become a teacher…and that is mastery in a discipline. But expertise in a field, knowing what to teach, is just the beginning of the journey we call teaching.

Source: What Makes A Great Teacher

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