April 15, 2024

It’s priceless seeing the jubilant expression in the face of my grade 9 journalism students as they cheerfully clapped when I told them Sen. Robin Padilla’s signature campaign for Apollo Quiboloy failed. Their triumphant “Yehey!” could be likened to when a teacher exempts from taking a test or doing a performance task. It speaks a lot about their value judgment.
We had been following the updates about the unheeded summons of the Congress for this infamous religious (cult, if you will) leader to appear before the Senate. And though the students are into it mainly for our weekly current events quiz or daily article-for-a-day report, they seemed invested on certain news stories they find particularly interesting and very relevant.
Their what-ifs and whys, and their incredulity and candid reactions about ridiculous statements or actions of those in the news reports, make me believe that they are becoming critical thinkers, the kind of learners that we strive to mold not just in the Special Program in Journalism (SPJ) but in every class we handle.
As a mentor, I hope that my journos and students will turn the skills that we constantly try to develop in them into habits they could use in their college, professional, and personal lives. I met with one of my former SPJ students a week ago. She said everytime she passes by a newspaper stand, her eyes quickly scan the headlines of the broadsheets on display. To her, this became a habit because of her years as a copyreader back in high school.
Meanwhile, her friend, a news writer who won in last year’s National Schools Press Conference, said she had become meticulous about her groupmates’ write-ups given what she recalls as dreaded training under the journalism program. I could assume that perhaps SPJ has prepared them well for college and hopefully for the real world as well.
As division school press conferences are again in full swing, I celebrate the fact that school paper advisers, journalism professors, and media practitioners come together to further underscore the importance certain skills such as social awareness and remind the learners to look at things from different angles to make sense of the things happening around them.
I acknowledge that not all of these campus journalists will soon pursue mass communication and enter a career in journalism. In fact, of the four SPJ batches I handled, I only know of two learners who have decided to take up the said course in college. This number is no reason for worry, and in no way does this mean the journalism program has failed. I’m pretty confident that many, if not all, of them will move forward with the knowledge, skills, and values acquired in the program.