Just to be Cited, or to Incite? (Part 1 of 2)

While still stranded in a travel due to canceled flights with the Omicron Surge in early January, a small group of my students asked me for a Google Meet interview as part of their course requirements in an education subject.

They asked me about the personal and professional qualities that I think a teacher should possess.

I reminded them of the 4 basic functions of a teacher:

F – Formation of values

I – Instruction and teaching

R – Research and publication

E – Engagement in the community

After briefly explaining these functions and asking apology for not being able to give more time for the interview due to my poor internet connection while in travel, I thus told them in the end:

“The teacher’s role is not just to teach, but to kindle FIRE. And his or her qualities must revolve around the fulfillment of these functions in the best possible manner.

Yes, to kindle FIRE.

Unfortunately, I had no more time elaborating to the students the archetypal cycle of education which these four functions of a teacher represent:

Knowledge-rationalization —> Knowledge-dissemination —> Knowledge-production —> Knowledge-utilization —> then vice versa

Knowledge-rationalization – Stage 1 of the Cycle

Knowledge-rationalization is represented by the formation of values (the letter ‘F’ in FIRE). This is the foundation stage of teaching. It is here that the teacher has to clarify for himself or herself the core values why he or she is doing what he or she is doing. Steve Jobs would approach it by asking the question, “What makes my heart sing?” (“The Storyteller’s Secret” by Carmine Gallo, p. 13, https://amzn.to/3KMqv7T). The problem here is when a teacher just limits to himself or herself the core values that he or she cherishes. It is like a ‘buddha’ who just keeps only for himself or herself his or her most-valued ‘nirvana’ (enlightenment).

Knowledge-dissemination – Stage 2 of the Cycle

Knowledge-dissemination is embodied by the instruction and teaching (the letter ‘I’ in FIRE). As the core values are already clarified, the teacher embarks on his dissemination of some parts of the existing body of knowledge. This is usually done inside the four corners of the classroom. The problem here is when the teacher imagines that his or her only function is to teach and teach and teach until kingdom comes. Does it strike a chord with you? Hmmm… Well, no comment.

Knowledge-production – Stage 3 of the Cycle

Knowledge-production is manifested by the research and publication (the letter ‘R’ in FIRE). Now, as the teacher teaches or imparts pieces of knowledge to his or her students for some time, he or she will begin to realize that the existing body of knowledge is not enough to address certain new questions or circumstances. That’s why he or she will also realize the need to pursue research in order to improve the existing body of knowledge. Once finished, the research will be published so that others will benefit from it, horizontally (that is, among peers in the academe) and vertically (I mean, down to the community). The problem here is when the teacher thinks that the knowledge-production (to be widely CITED here and there) is the end-all-be-all of everything. “Yahoo! I’m one of the intellectual giants of the country!” one may shout in misplaced euphoria and utter jubilation.

Knowledge-utilization – Stage 4 of the Cycle

Knowledge-utilization is exemplified by the engagement in the community (the letter ‘E’ in FIRE). As indicated in the previous stage, the imparting of knowledge and further improvement of the said knowledge by means of research is not enough unless the same benefits the community. It is here that the teacher should see to it that the outcome of his or her research is not just confined within the high walls of the academia, being CITED in other studies and investigations, but to impact the community, collectively or individually. Once done perfectly, it is only then that the teacher completes the archetypical cycle of education.

Then after some profound personal reflection at the end of the cycle, the teacher begins anew, evaluating his first stage (knowledge-rationalization) and then proceed again to the second stage (knowledge-dissemination), so on and so forth.

In short, these are the four stages of “closing the gap between theory and practice”.

And once a teacher is trapped in any of these stages, it’s essentially relegation to the limbo of what we call “sayang-tist” instead of “scientist”. 

Fast forward to the other day, Feb 1 (Tuesday).

I read Dr. Christopher Ryan Maboloc’s Facebook post about his inclusion as the top 3 among 5 from Ateneo de Davao University in AD World Scientific Rankings for 2022.

That Sir Ryan is included is never a surprise for me. In fact, he is one of the role-models in the arena of research productivity and a standing monument of the ideal inseparability of what we call in Islamic ethics as the 2 wings of ‘ILM (knowledge) and HILM (humility).

But wait…

I saw my ID photo in Sir Ryan’s post and upon reading further, I realized that I’m ranked fourth, just next to him; hence, my instant Facebook post at that moment: “Al-hamdulillah, although I was not expecting it nor thinking about it when writing and translating books and articles for the past five years.”

Then I clicked the link provided in the post to see other names and other universities. Sad to say, I can only see five names from Ateneo de Davao while tens of names in other universities in the country. (As an individual researcher, there’s no denying that I’m glad to be included, but if I were a research head, I will be very, very sad, considering the existing research potentials in the university and the specific amount of budget allocated for that).

Since I could not see some names I was expecting to see in the list, both within and outside the university, it naturally triggered my curiosity.

As I read about AD Scientific Index – not knowing before that such a mammal ever exists – there are some intriguing things I have discovered, or so I thought…

(To be continued…)

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