De La Salle University has had its fair share of producing graduates who have become industry game changers, leaders, and business pioneers, in its more than 100 years of educating Filipino students. The success of Lasallian graduates in their chosen fields is partly attributable to what they were taught and how they were instructed during their stay at the University, but with the changing times and student culture, would Lasallians presently enrolled be able to share the same fate as Ramon del Rosario Jr., Leandro Locsin and other distinguished names?
It was a different time
Laptops and external hard drives are everyday essentials to any student, but backtrack to 20 or so years ago, and all a student could rely on was the mighty pen and paper. Back then, there was no air conditioning or fancy PowerPoint presentations; professors had to go back and forth the blackboard to erase previous lecture notes to make room for more.
With this, Lasallians were perceived to be more diligent before, compared to the population currently running along the halls of the Taft campus, given the limitations of how students had to review for their exams, or how they had to submit their requirements. Lasallian alumni also had a different take on work-life balance; having merienda at a nearby mall was already a big deal before, while the present generation rely on happy Thursdays or nights out at the newest bar to unwind.
Honorata Dimapilis from the DSI Department is a DLSU alumna and has been teaching for 22 years in DLSU. She cites the library environment as a comparison of students back in the day to students in the University at present. “The environment in the library now is more relaxing so there is even a possibility for students to sleep but before you find students searching for a book and then reading. Now their readings are sourced online or retrieved from the web rather than having it sourced physically from the book.”
For those who have personally seen how different generations of Lasallians tackled the demands of student life, they say that the different generations are more alike than dissimilar.
Dimapilis admittedly shares how amidst the differences between generations there are similarities as well, “I think the students here in the University are still able to cope up with the fast pace system of La Salle. During my time as a student here and now as a professor, I see that students are used to that fast paced life in the University compared to other schools.”
On learning styles and information dissemination
Nothing has really changed in terms of what is being taught to students. The basic tenets of their chosen majors from more than 15 years ago is the same as it is today. Of course new practices and discoveries in their chosen fields are injected to the curriculum whenever they are formally accepted by practitioners, but the curriculum is generally constant through time.
Dimapilis explains that approaches in teaching have changed over the years as she compared it from her time. “I have to admit, when I was a student, everything was about theory, theory, theory but in reality, I learned it on my own. But now as a teacher, when I discuss in class, I’m not limited to theories so I also add some general principles in life and I think that will have a domino effect on them when they’re done with college.”
According to Rene Molano, who has been teaching at DLSU for close to 24 years now, the difference comes from the learning style embraced by students whom he taught in the 1990s compared to the students whom he is teaching now. “They (students during the 1990s) are used to the lecture type; they have longer attention spans,” he shares.
He continues by saying he would be satisfied with just giving a lecture until the session ends knowing the students were able to absorb all the things he discussed. Meanwhile, Lasallians today are restless. “I do not lecture for the whole hour and a half session. I always give activities in between my lectures,” he reassures.
After giving out the activities, he expects the students to supplement his lecture with learnings they picked up through the activity. When the students miss any learnings they should have realized during the activity, that is the only time he will continue on with his lecture.
Another insight Molano observed is that the reaction time of Lasallians today in terms of learning methods is faster compared to their predecessors. He points out that technology plays a major role in making Lasallians more resilient to changes in schedules, deadlines, and academic requirements. Molano notes that the current generation of Lasallians are “digital natives” who prefer to take pictures of important announcements rather than checking the updates on the almost extinct bulletin board.
Sharing the same candor and spirit
Although there are differences in learning styles and learning methods between different generations of Lasallians, students from before and now are both driven to succeed in their fields.
Raymond Paderna, who graduated from DLSU with a Business Management degree, and who has been teaching at the University for over 24 years, shares that students he has encountered in the past and present are both curious and inquisitive while valuing hard work.
He adds that they are very eager to learn new things and are never intimidated of the gap required between a professor and a student. Paderna also affirms that Lasallians are really polite while Molano reveals that Lasallians, regardless of what batch they are from, have always been jolly and makulit.
Paderna points out that regardless of what generation his students come from, there should always be a meeting of minds when he teaches. This lessens the gap students would feel when the professor who is two times the age of his students would share experiences and insights.
“A gap is what you make of it. If you (professors) insist on the language, thoughts, and concepts you have learned during the 1950s or 1960s, when you should not, then you will feel the gap,” Paderna quips.
Meanwhile, drawing from her experience both as a previous student of the University and now as a professor in the same institution, Dimapilis shares that a generation gap can be defined as, “Seeing a difference between preferences, attitudes and values of the kids today and comparing it with my time.”
Paderna adds that the reality of generation gap is merely a “state of mind”. He adds, “You can choose to behave like an 84 year-old and not relate with people 50 years your junior or you can choose to be an 84 year-old in body and yet be, from time to time, a 20 year old in disposition.”
Paderna, Dimapilis and Molano highlight the necessity of both student and professor to adjust and adapt to the differences in practices, expectations, and beliefs may be a challenge for some professors and students but it may all boil down to one’s willingness to do so.
If there is a common drive to communicate effectively what each generation wishes to impart to others, then the age gap should not be an issue.