November 29, 2016, Tuesday, was a memorable day for all Ateneo Hearter teachers and staff as Sacred Heart School – Ateneo de Cebu hosted this year’s CEAP-CeSSPA Teachers’ Congress. For a school committed to excellence in teaching and learning, SHS-ADC found itself serving the 1, 368 delegates of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines – Cebu Secondary Schools Principals’ Association (CEAP-CeSSPA).
On that day, 44 Catholic schools tried to reflect on the theme: Engaged Catholic Schools in Transformed Standards: Moving Forward with New Spirit and Fervour. The congress commenced with a Eucharistic celebration led by Rev. Fr. Jesper John P. Petralba and CEAP-CeSSPA Priest Administrators Concelebrants at the Magis Eagles Arena. Teachers tried to reshape their approach on 21st century teaching and learning as Fr. Johnny Go, SJ, the Keynote Speaker, disturbed them with the truths of virtual reality. His essential questions were: How real is virtual reality? How virtuous is virtual reality?
Fr. Johnny then presented five endangered species which need to be protected and cultivated for them to survive and flourish in today’s digital world. The following are the endangered species in a nutshell:
- Endangered Species # 1: Values
Fr. Johnny pointed out that values have become endangered in today’s world partially because of the influence of TV shows that contain hidden messages. Students’ sense of authority is dependent on what makes them happy or how they feel. Because of moral individualism, educators are called to be more discerning and resilient in shaping students to be persons of good character.
- Endangered Species # 2: Thoughts and Truths
According to Fr. Johnny, the Internet has chipped away one’s capacity to concentrate and contemplate. We are now in an ecosystem of interruption technologies. In effect, our readings have become short and shallow. “Copy-Paste” has made us hunters and gatherers in the electronic data forest. Facts do not matter anymore because perception becomes everything. Because of this, educators are challenged to adjust to the truth, no matter how quiet the truth is.
- Endangered Species # 3: Relationships
Fr. Johnny described the reality that people are so attached with their gadgets (i.e. mobile phones) while interacting with others face to face, that they are missing out on that moment that could have been made memorable and meaningful when the other person would put all his/her attention to that moment. He emphasized that communication technology should not substitute personal interactions.
- Endangered Species # 4: Self
Fr. Johnny revealed the sad reality that self-worth is now measured by the number of likes on Facebook or followers on Instagram. It is now measured by social approval. People nowadays have developed this addiction to audience because it gives them instant and constant affirmation. However, educators must understand that social media should not be the basis for one’s identity and acceptance in the community.
- Endangered Species # 5: Silence and the Sacred
Fr. Johnny shared that with the birth of digital era comes also the death of silence, the loss of solitude, the loss of the sense of the sacred. Educators are challenged to invite their students to feel their feelings alone, by themselves and with themselves. Educators are challenged to encourage students to practice the Digital Sabbath when they would disconnect themselves from their gadgets in order to reconnect with what is more important: family, authentic learning, reflection, and worship.
At the end of his keynote address, Fr. Johnny Go, SJ, posted a motive question to the delegates: How can our Catholic schools be a sanctuary so that these endangered species can be protected and can flourish? He encouraged the educators to model how to live in a Catholic way, to teach who they are, influence one person at a time and to surprise everyone by not following the stereotype. The keynote address was closed with a good number of feedback and sharing during the open forum.
On the afternoon, the delegates went to their different subject areas to attend the break-out sessions facilitated by invited resource speakers. Finally, the salu-salo of educational learning culminated with the plenum held at the Magis Eagles Arena. Educators received an early bonus during the raffle draw sponsored by different publishing companies and other sponsor schools. The Sinag ng Karunungan, teachers who have served their schools for over 25 years, were also recognized on that day. At the end of the congress, the Ateneo Hearter educators felt satisfied to have served well at the CEAP-CeSSPA Teachers’ Congress. The HS Knights of the Altar, Blue Knights, Angklung, HS Boy Scouts, Blue Beat Brigade, HS Magis Society and other chosen Ateneo Hearter students also offered their services during the Congress. Indeed, it was the delight of SHS-ADC to reflect with and serve their fellow teachers at the CEAP-CeSSPA Teachers’ Congress 2016 as the school moves forward with renewed spirit and fervor for the greater glory of God.