So I went to Komiket [FB LINK] with my friends. We only stayed for a few hours because I had a meeting in UPD in the afternoon. But those few hours were enough to completely devastate my wallet. I would have bought more, I really, really wanted to buy more, but I'd only brought a specific budget to protect myself. At one point, my friends and I formed a human chain, swearing to stop the others from buying any more merch. Three of us got to the door only to realise we'd lost half of our human chain to shiny stickers. SO MUCH GOOD SHIT. SIGH AGAIN.
Speaking of stickers, Komiket had more stickers than comics this time around. I think they figured out that stickers are very, very marketable, and designed their merch around them. I did get a few prints, zines, and comics, but majority of my haul was composed of stickers. Most of the comics there were ones I'd already seen or purchased at Komikon a few months back. I'm not complaining because Summer Komikon: Komiks Karnibal is coming up on April 1. I don't think my wallet will have recovered by then, so I might sit that one out, even though I'm sure there'll be a lot of new releases coming out then. 3X SIGH COMBO.
I got to see a lot of friends at Komiket! There were two tables that were mainly comprised of artists that I had met through Homestuck: Draft Party and Illuminartists Collective, and other old friends scattered throughout the con itself. I always love seeing my friends in geeky settings, and I also love to support their endeavours, so it was super cool all around.
Went to UPD afterwards, where Addie and I had another interview while riding the UP Ikot. It was a really good interview, I think, and Addie and I were musing about our place in the greater scheme of current events, our teeny tiny place in this whole mess, over the taho the interviewer gave us. Rather, I bullied him into drinking taho because he looked tired and pale, and then he ended up getting everyone taho. The poor man clearly needed a good night's sleep, bless him. He was telling me about coca plants and the pesticides they'd used to try to get rid of the crops in Colombia and how that had failed them and hurt their people and their ecosystem. Very interesting stuff considering my research goals.
Addie and I had a lot to think about considering that the entire week had been building up to the 31st anniversary of the EDSA revolution that was happening on that Saturday. It's already Monday and you can still see the effects of the celebrations and protests that happened on that day. Lots of shit being talked by the people in the administration and their allies, and lots of bitterness from everyone else. The reporter asked me if I was optimistic about the future of the Philippines, and I was surprised to be asked that question, because the answer's always been a firm yes for me. I am optimistic about the future of our country, no matter what happens in the present. No matter how shitty things are now, there's always room to improve, to breathe and grow. I think that the Philippines needs its people to be great, individually, before we can be a great nation. We need our people to be good at what they do, to be passionate, to have their dignity and value themselves.
You can love your family, your lover, or your leaders as much as you want, but no person is worth not choosing yourself first. It's really only when your objectives align that you can be with someone. Otherwise, you'd just be kidding yourself, I guess.
I'm a firm believer in the necessity of general education, whether it's at younger levels of education, or in university. In the past few years, there's been a push towards removing general education subjects in university because some people think it's unnecessary, that it distracts students from their majors and splits their focus. You hear a lot din about students saying that their minors profs are "feeling majors" because of the sheer amount of requirements that they demand from already frazzled students.
However, I think that removing minors or gen ed subjects from a university curriculum is a reductive method of dealing with this issue. Kind of similar to how the tragic and accidental deaths in Tanay has led to a CHED-mandated ban on field trips. It's short-sighted, and it doesn't replace the unique learning opportunities that the removed activity would have ~potentially~ provided students.
I've heard people say that it's a waste of time to have students rehash information they already learned in grade school or high school, but I have also heard college-educated adults erroneously share facts, and arguments based on these facts, that are supposed to have been learned in those years.
(I am also totally guilty of this: I was a fair-weather social studies student, and have become an adult who can't accurately recall the places in the Philippines, or the world, to be honest. I'm not proud of it, and I have to seriously hustle and rely on Google if I want to sound credible. I am not a pot calling the kettle black, I am a darkly-coloured pot, aware of my own blackness, saying hear ye, we all look through a glass darkly, we are all in the dark together, let us turn away from the shadows on the wall and look at the real forms beyond our cave..... ad infinitum).
There are several reasons why we have general education subjects in university: to cover gaps that were not and should have been filled, to allow students to build on information learned as children and be able to apply them in higher contexts that'll be more relevant in their lives as adults, to help students become more well-rounded individuals, and to help students see that there are other options to a major/course that they picked when they were young and didn't know better and allow them to shift to something else.
The first, and most cited reason, of course, is that it's supposed to allow students who had terrible general education subjects in grade school and high school come up to speed with those who have received better educations, either because of being from better institutions, or because they had more passionate teachers, or because their parents provided supplementary information at home. This reason has been summarily dismissed by many people who are incapable of seeing their own educational privilege, and, to appease those who know that there are humungous gaps between private and public education, and large gaps between private educations between middling schools with lower budgets and high-tier schools who are blessed with enough money (and louder parents who demand more bang for their buck) they have created the senior high school program.
The gaps, however, are infinities within infinities, multitudinous, and multi-factorial. I have had students, second year biology majors, who thought that fish were able to break down water into its component parts of oxygen and hydrogen and use the latter to breathe underwater. This is something they /could/ have learned from grade school, but these hard-working kids could have gone straight to med school and beyond without knowing what they didn't know.
a. It is one thing to memorise that fish are able to use their gills to respire underwater, and a completely different thing to learn that gills actually take in /dissolved oxygen/ from the water.
b. It is one thing to learn that plants undergo photosynthesis, giving animals oxygen to breathe, and that underwater plants do the same thing for underwater animals, but that the oxygen they release does not, through some arcane, thermodynamically-impossible process, bind to some loose hydrogen to become more water.
c. It is one thing to memorise that water is a universal solvent and that there are different kinds of mixtures and that gas can dissolve into liquids, and to realise that the oxygen from photosynthesising plants is dissolved into the water around.
d. It is one thing to watch Fullmetal Alchemist and learn about equivalent exchange and hear Alphonse Elric say that alchemising his damaged armour to cover holes only works so much until the metal gets too thin and realise that even in FMA world, matter cannot be created only transformed, meaning you can only do so much with what you have.
That being said, the second reason one has general education subjects throughout their academic lives is to allow people to learn things at different mental levels as their brains develop. Allowing us to get the HOTS for learning. You know, those Higher Order Thinking Skills you hear so much about when your teachers read you the syllabus. The kingdom of grade school is the kingdom of rote memorisation and learning basic skills while your brain is plastic enough to acquire huge gulps of knowledge. High school is where you learn how to apply information, designing your own experiments to test "facts", writing basic theses to teach yourself rational thinking, and deciding what is important to you as the person you want to become. University is where you start binding knowledge to your identity, realising the context of information in your world, and transforming it into your likeness. (I believe it is good to put "charot" in here, so I shall.)
Senior high school, currently, is the educational gap year(s) where you go because the government can't reform public and private education kasi mahirap siyang gawin and because people keep sending their kids to school as babies. Eventually senior high school will just be known as high school, and the ideal situation is that students will finally have the time to properly know who they want to be and decide to go into a trade or enroll in higher education. The difference between the current situation and the ideal is glaring right now because we're in a transitory phase after decades of cheating our youth of extra time to learn who they are and treating universities as diploma mills for even the most basic jobs in the market.
Okay, fish aside, a good example of information students need to build on as adults would be how our government works. We know that there are three branches of the government: the executive, legislative, and judicial branch and that they provide checks and balances for each other. Now that we are adults and inundated with news EVERYWHERE, we can apply this information to how the development of a law in the legislative system relevant to us can affect our lives, and how we can appeal to the judicial system to stop the enforcement of this law. Or if the executive branch decides to support the burial of a dictator in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, and the judicial system's TRO falls through and the SC decides to vote in favour of it due to executive pressure, and our legislative branch does nothing about it, we know that the checks and balances system has failed and that soon our entire government will collude to pull the wool over our eyes. Haha, theoretical lang iyon
General education subjects allow students to become more well-rounded adults by exposing them to fields beyond their interest, or the interests of their parents. When we use the word fields, we aren't simply saying that there are other things to learn about, we are saying through figurative speech that there is so much knowledge and information to learn and parse in this world that we can only visualise it as taking up space, to know that there are things beyond the horizon, that you would need a bird's eye view to glimpse enough of it to even begin to understand the scope of human knowledge. How would you understand your responsibility as successor and heir to thousands of years of human innovation without context? How would you understand the value of your interests, your likes and dislikes, the affect, yes, affect, resulting from experience? How deeply do your educational roots draw from the well of humanity in order to stand tall and with dignity? Are you willing to go on through your life knowing that there is something you could have loved, could have given you purpose and excitement, and realised that it remained out of your grasp because someone decided that it was unnecessary to your value as a member of a capitalist society? Now imagine those who have no choice, who do not know that they do not know, whose parents or primary/secondary schools, economic place, have limited their view, and agreeing that that is fine for them as long as it doesn't happen to you and your children. Do we stunt creativity and knowledge because some people do not value the potential of each human life? STRESS PO.
That being said, the last reason is to help students see that there are other options to a major/course that they have already picked, and possibly allow them to shift to something else AND CHEENJ THEIR FEET (change their fate). K-12 will allow students to have more time to choose their roles in society (ideally), but so many students go into university with their majors/courses chosen for them by well-meaning (optimistically) parents and educators. This is either due to a desire for economic stability, or because their parents are control freaks who think they know their children better than their children could ever know their own identity. Because of the blinders put on these kids, they end up choosing courses/majors that lead to unfulfilling jobs, without even knowing that there could have been other options.
Let us let go of the obvious analogy of science vs. arts, where a young artist is cruelly forced into a science course because supposedly STEM fields pay more (not always, btw, all things are variable in a capitalist system). What about a kid taking journalism who is told that they should be a newspaper writer when they could be a photojournalist, a radio host, a blogger? You can become limited by your parents' vision, but it is only because of general education subjects, and general major subjects, read: majors niyo na mas-specific, that you can decide if your course/major or future career is the one you want to continue working for. Or, failing a career transition due to economic boundaries, that you can indulge in a passion part-time, as a hobby, a loving amateur, and still be enriched by it. How many people can now learn from free online courses, can learn how to cook or craft from Youtube, have found their people on online forums? How would you have become free of the planted notions of yourself if you did not know what else exists beyond what you have to learn to become economically viable and valuable?
But, Hope, I have had truly terrible minors professors. They made us learn badly-curated syllabi and watch terrible films, and then /tested/ us like it was going out of style!
My dudes, I am sorry that you were unable to derive the full measure of a general education due to your professors not giving a damn. (Or because they truly need anger management classes but they cannot afford it because a teacher's living wage is terrible.)
But for all the reasons I have stated above, I still think general education is necessary, and that the way we teach it, the way we teach our teachers to teach it, the way we PAY our teachers to teach it, should be fixed and reformed. Do not remove something valuable without replacing it with something of equal value. Or else you are just stealing the possible experience from the kids who need it most.
*cue Greatest Love of All as sung by Whitney Houston*
My two other reads this week are very recent releases.
Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman Unfortunately I came into this with high expectations and felt let down after I read it. I mean, it's a good and very readable primer for Norse mythology, and Gaiman's artistic flourishes were very welcome, but I felt that it had very little to recommend it in terms of uniqueness. Other than being a recent compilation, I suppose that it is very accessible? It's probably my own fault for expecting something else when the entire point and objective of the book is right there on the cover. If you're already familiar with Norse mythology you can go ahead and skip this book, otherwise go ahead and immerse yourself.
The Stars are Legion by Kameron Hurley I've been anticipating this release ever since Hurley announced it, even though I was surprised that she was releasing a standalone novel in between the second and third, and final, book of the Worldbreaker Saga (which is coming out in fall of this year). Hurley's a big fan of biopunk, bloodthirsty women, and war, so of course this book has all of those elements. She's marketed this book as "Lesbians in Space" and while that isn't wrong, it's a very, very small part of the whole picture. I was actually very underwhelmed by the relationships between the characters in this book, I mean there's a plot-relevant reason why this is so, but there are some points where the character interactions feel a bit stilted to the point that they just seem like vehicles for the plot instead of actual characters. The plot itself is very interesting, but the pacing's a bit off so the book feels unbalanced. For me, the real star of this book was the worldbuilding that Hurley gives us. Hurley's always been good at worldbuilding around biopunk technology, and her living space colonies in this book BLEW MY MIND. We really get to enjoy it in the latter half of the novel when the MC and some other characters (the tinman, cowardly lion, and the scareceow) go on this odyssey through the innards of the world, and the sheer imagination she invested in writing about the "world" of the book was amazing. It was fucking wondrous. Hurley also gets a few good emotional knocks in, so hold on to your heart when you read this.