Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What students say about Humanities (Impressions and Impact)

Abe V Rotor

World War II Memorial at St Paul University QC


The following findings were derived from the perception and reaction of students who took Humanities in the summer 2005 at SPU-QC, then an exclusive women institution. Humanities or Applied Aesthetics, formerly Introduction to the Arts and Music, is a three-unit subject offered in the second year as part of the general college curriculum. The findings will shed light to the general impression that Humanities is one of the least understood subjects.

As a professor in humanities, the author looked into how functional knowledge and skills derived from the course could be best cultivated, and how the historical and philosophical perspectives are inculcated in the student. He believes that this can be done by formulating an effective way of teaching this broad subject which comprises four major fields, namely visual art, literature, stage play, music and dance.

One can only imagine how, in a semester’s time – or in one summer period - a college freshman or sophomore could imbibe the subject from the level of appreciation to actual application. But the author believes in the potentials of the course – if only it could be taught the “effective” way.

The other consideration why this study was made is to determine to what extent can awareness in the arts be built in so short a period, and how such awareness would affect behavior and perception of the student, not only in the arts, but also about life itself. It would give both teacher and students the idea when appreciation begins so as to influence attitudes and values.

Does Humanities bring out awareness of culture and history as well? To what extent does it influence ones perception about the environment, society and the changing times? Is the syllabus of the course sufficient in bridging art’s traditional history and conventional styles with one that is progressive and liberal in keeping up with the call of the times? If this is so, are the students prepared to critique art, not so much for art’s sake, but for its relevance and application in their lives?

Profile to the student-respondents

There are 43 students, all female, with a narrow age range of 17 to 20. The average age is 17.71. The students are in their second year taking up the following courses.

IT (Information Technology) 31 (72%)
HRM (Hotel and Restaurant Management) 8 (19%)
MC (Mass Communication) 3 (7%)
Biology 1 (2%)

Total 43 (100%)

Of the 43 student-respondents, 26 of them or 60 percent are bona fide residents of Metro Manila, while 17 (40 %) have provincial addresses. Thirty (80 %) live with their parents, while 5 (12 %) live with their relatives. In general, the students belong to small families as shown by the computed average number of brothers and sisters, which is 1.69 and 0.87, respectively. This is equivalent to three children per family, two girls and one boy.

Here are 10 major topics or activities in Humanities and how the students rated them.

1. Drawing and Painting - 4.52 Very Good
There were two drawings and one acrylic painting made by each student.
Subjects included on-the-spot, still life and imagery painting.

2. Multiple intelligence - 4.31 Very Good.
The students made a self- evaluation of the eight realms of intelligence: logic, language, spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, kinesthetics, music and naturalism. This exercise serves in analyzing their strong and weak faculties, and to use them in self-improvement.

3. Exercises – 4.14 Very Good.
There are three exercises conducted, namely
A. Make this three live again
B. I am a sailboat
C. My dream house

4. Photography - 4.55 Very Good
The score clearly shows the interest of students in photography as an art. Photography session was held on the campus, and the photographs were made into a photo-essay about SPUQ mounted on illustration board and exhibited at the museum at the end of the course.

5. Drama Skit - 4.24 Very Good
In spite of the limited period of preparation the students enjoyed the drama skit presentation held at the museum. Each group comprised of 5 to 7 members. Contemporary themes included campus scenes, and adventures of growing up.

6. Poetry - 3.93 Good
Poetry writing was rated good. Two poems were made, one accompanied their paintings and the other about Paulinian values. Generally the students preferred free verse style.

7. Reaction papers - 4.0 Good
Critiquing is an important aspect in the arts. The students were required to submit reaction papers for The Little Prince and My Fair Lady. Art criticism was also assigned to them for the murals and paintings.

8. The Little Prince - 4.12 Very Good
This film is based on Antoine de Saint-Exupery’ novelette of the same title. Two sessions were devoted in its analysis. Among the challenging questions asked was “Who is the Little Prince in your life?”

9. My Fair Lady - 4.36 Very Good
This film is a modern version of Pygmalion involving the transformation of an adolescent into a fair lady through the guidance of a phonetic professor. The story imparts a lesson about growing up in contemporary society.

10. Story of my life - 4.36 Very Good
This is an autobiography. Other than writing about oneself, the student explores her world, expounds her life’s philosophy and explores her future.

What Students say about the effects/ impact of Humanities

Are there effects of the subject on the lives of the students? What are they and to what extent? These are their perceptions:

1. Self worth/ self esteem 4.19 VG
2. Attitude to studies 4.29 VG
3. Attitude to family 4.36 VG
4. Friends and acquaintances 4.36 VG
5. Spiritual life 4.14 VG
6. Personal values 4.02 G
7. Social values 4.04 G
8. Environment and nature 3.64 G
9. Determination/outlook in life 4.24 VG
10. Cultivation of talents/ faculties 4.14 VG

The course has the greatest perceived impact on the improvement in attitude to family and friends with 4.36 (Very Good), followed by improvement in attitude toward studies (4.29 Very Good), and better outlook in life, greater determination to live, higher self-esteem.

The students gave the lowest scores (Good) to three aspects: outlook on the environment and nature, and improvement of social and personal value. This is because transformation of values is more difficult to attain than transformation of attitudes.

Conclusion and Recommendation

Humanities can be made an interesting and enjoyable subject by enhancing the following conditions.

1. Conducive venues - classroom, museum, Eco-Sanctuary, Instructional Media Center, and the like.

2. Effective teaching methods and techniques – lecture-demonstration, hands-on, on-site instruction and research, group dynamics, film viewing and critiquing

3. Effective teacher - competent, good attitude, and profession

4. Appropriate topics/subjects to include wider coverage of spatial arts, literature, and performing arts.

5. Impact and influence on character and behavior – personal, social and spiritual values

The following constitute some areas in improving the subject and its instruction:

1. Greater involvement of the school in the community on activities related to humanities, such as poster making contest, literary contest, wall mural painting, quiz bee, and the like

2. Extensive use of the library and audio-visual resources.

3. Allocation of more time in creative activities, hands-on, etc.

4. Visitation of institutions, such as art centers and scenic spots.

5. Getting guest resource persons.

Comments of Students

1. Arts and humanities is not just a plain subject. It is life!

2. It was a very different experience. I never thought of enjoying summer class like this. The teacher, is so good, he knows how to teach and touch our lives in a very different way.

3. I find this subject fun and I really learn a lot from it.

4. This subject has tackled a lot about life and arts - and being happy.

5. I really enjoyed this humanities class. I loved the lectures regarding life. The hands-on activities like drawing, paintings and photography are really enjoyable.

6. The subject is so challenging, it helped me develop my determination in life.

7. Humanities a great experience. The professor always brings out the best in us and our hidden talents. And that is humanities.

8. More film viewing even non-classics (contemporary)

9. I’ve learned so much from this subject, especially about the finer things in life.

10. I’ve learned so much on the side of poetry.

11. More elaboration of topics is needed.

12. The subject was taught well. The only problem was the discussion period. It was lengthy.

13. Humanities was really a great experience. It is not only that I’ve learned the subject but the deeper side of the subject.

14. Thank you for teaching us how to express ourselves, and in cultivating our talents.

15. Well done Sir, you are so patient and very considerate to your students. I really love your way of teaching. Keep up the good work.

16. More hands-on activities. Clear in teaching and explaining.

17. Give us time for preparation in same activities, specifically in a stage plays. We cannot do it in just one day to finish everything. Thank you!

18. More time to discuss topics and more time to practice for the play.

19. I had a very good experience in humanities. We did not focus in the classroom only but even outside of the class room. It helped me to appreciate the beauty of nature.

20. The class is very interesting but there were moments I got tired because of many activities.

21. “No man is an island; he has his own role and purpose in life.”

22. It was a wonderful experience to study humanities because we had a lot of fun during the activities. ~

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