Writing in the time of COVID-19   

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    BY GRACIE RAMOS ESPIEL

    “YOU can make anything by writing,” thus said author C.S. Lewis.

    That was what I wanted to check at the start of the community quarantine when my staffers and students began to complain about not doing anything at home. The school paper adviser and English teacher in me had only one thing to say to them then – “Write!”

    It was not a very persuasive line, but I persisted. I went along the lines, “This is in preparation for a special section we are going to have in the next issue of our school paper. We will post the articles, cartoons, poems or pictures on our FB page then have them as part of the COVID-19 section of our printed paper.”

    I told my students that they, as campus journalists, have an important role in documenting history. I did not want them to submit news articles because we have professional journalists to take care of that. I am envisioning that the COVID-19 section of our paper be filled with features, editorials and even poems of students and teachers documenting their thoughts and feelings during these times.

    But I guess as a teacher, I could not help having affective objectives and putting embedded competencies in a task for my students. Apart from wanting to fill that special section of our newspaper, I wanted my staffers to continue writing. They need writing and other journalism exercises, so they can practice their skills during this very long break. I also wish for non-staffers to start writing and I hope for alumni and the teachers to write again.

    More important than school paper goals, I thought of giving this task because I want my students to care (more). Their generation has been dubbed by many as carefree and careless. “They don’t care,” as others said. This pandemic, along with the political and social concerns that come with it in the country, is a perfect opportunity to make these students hungry for information, eager to think critically and sensitive about other people and the country’s welfare and consequently, empowered to express themselves.

    The most crucial goal for me in this project is when this pandemic ends, I hope for students to have learned from what is happening and from others’ perceptions. I hope they would be inspired by other people’s selfless acts. Through this call for lockdown stories, I wish for students to develop ideals of their own and use them in making wise decisions and in showing that they have truly learned from history.

    The project might be ambitious, but we will continue with it, firmly believing that in this time of virus-combatting, continuous learning should be viral and social consciousness should be contagious. And in doing this, we teachers are the frontliners.

    (The author is an English faculty member at the Quezon City Science High School and adviser of the school newsletter.)

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