Tuesday, April 05, 2011

G.I. Books

”Sir, remind your pupils to return their G.I. (government issued) books. And ask each one of them to bring a sack.” The grade-six grade leader told me yesterday.  I did remind my pupils to return their books, but I forgot to tell them to bring a sack. I forgot because, maybe, subconsciously, I didn’t see any reason to ask them to. But anyway…

This morning, one of my pupils excitedly approached me and asked if he could now return his books. I said yes. So, he went back to his seat, took out three humungous plastic bags, and then put them on my table. I asked how many books were issued to him. He smiled and told me, “Sir, I was given twenty five books.” I almost lost consciousness. 

Now I knew why he was so excited; he was being relieved of a "heavy burden". 

I had no idea that these pupils were given from thirteen to twenty five books each! Since taking over the class last September, I did not even check the list of issued books thinking that I cshould do this at the end of the school year.  Boy was I surprised. Now I see the reason why the grade leader told me to ask my pupils to each bring a sack.

So, I had the books laid on the floor. I checked them versus the list that I was holding. As I was going through the titles, nostalgia hit me because two of the titles were the same English books I used during my grade six days. I was taken back to 1984. Memories flooded my mind. 

I also noticed a yellowed book and when I opened the title page, I was not surprised to find that it was copyrighted in 1967. In the name of Odin and the heroes of Valhalla, these books are still in circulation?!  

Each pupil was issued three to five English books, math books, art books…with copyright dates ranging from the antebellum era to the new millennium. I asked my pupils if they read them. They smiled and said no. Did you bring any of them to school? They frowned and asked me if I want them to suffer spinal injury. What did you do with these books? We received them, put them in plastic bags, hid them somewhere in the house, and forgot about them until now. They candidly told me. Logical.

I gave up receiving and checking the books. I thought of the danger posed by these ancient books to me. My gulay, there might be viruses trapped in these books 50 years ago that my immune system has forgotten and might not recognize, hence my body have no defense to whatever contagion that might be accidentally released! I might awaken a dormant strain of meningo-diarrhea or anal-hydrocephaulus virus or something…and destroy all of humanity in the  process. So to avoid the danger, I gave the folder to one of my pupils, asked another three to help her, and left the work of checking and inventorying the returned books to them while I sat on my desk reading a book.

I do not blame the teachers for issuing these mixture of obsolete and current books to the pupils because if they were not issued, these books would only occupy precious space in the classroom. The teacher could not get rid of them because there is no clear policy on  what to do with obsolete books. The Department should issue a policy or just give the teacher discretion to discard phased out books. And please, books that are older than the teacher should be put to rest. Books have dignity, too. They should also be given proper retirement from the service.

These books issued to the pupils are seldom used Even I, I seldom use the issued textbooks because they are boring and they contain glaring errors. I prefer the books I used in my private school days. 
Unused and underutilized books are a waste of precious resources. Research should be made on alternatives like cheap mimeographed or photocopied workbooks. Or issue one book to the teacher and just photocopy the necessary materials...maybe a copyright agreement...

Alternatives should be studied.

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