I shouldn’t call myself Sir Martin?

(In a strange way, this reminds me of the attack on Sexy Mom, but this is not quite as bad.)

This is perhaps one of the most interesting comments I have ever received on this blog. I found it so amusing and challenging that I’m sharing it and the e-mail response I personally sent the guy.

Read on!

Wandered into your blog, while looking for Pisay stuff. I am a graduate of Pisay, Batch 86. While I do appreciate that you are teaching at Pisay, I think there is something “dodgy” (an Australian word that fits what I’m trying to say, I guess) about a teacher naming himself (on his own blog) Sir anything.We called our teachers then Mrs. Ladera, or Mr. Guevara in class, and outside class, the younger ones were Robbie, or Mac. I find it a little disconcerting that a Social Studies teacher can claim or impose on others, a personal higher status that “sir” implies. Witness the mostly submissive and agreement-seeking comments of your students.

Pisay has and always been about independence of thought, of not being a suckup to authority figures. If the medium is the message, it’s a little hard to disagree (and express that disagreement) with Sir Teacher, no?

So, some unsolicited advice and then an apology. Drop the Sir thing from your blog (it is, after all, seen worldwide, and you confuse the Brits). The students can call you what they wish, but you shouldn’t call yourself Sir anything. Sorry, I was there in the mid 80s, when we were boycotting classes and marching in the streets, and we didn’t flatter our teachers with “cool, knighted sir Mac”.
– a Pisay ’86 grad who argued with Mrs. Ladera for a whole year and survived

And here is my response:

Francis,

Hi! I really appreciate the comment and I see where you’re coming from. However, times have changed I guess.

I never imposed “Sir” on my students. That is what they call me, and while I did find it awkward at first, it grew on me. Like a nickname. I’d love it if they would just call me Martin, but it always comes out as Sir. And not once did they call me Mr. Perez either. Similarly, female teachers are no longer called Ms. or Mrs. Mostly Ma’am (at least here in Pisay). And these days, neither Sir nor Ma’am carries with it an air of imposition or submission. It’s really how they call us teachers these days. Even in the most casual and informal conversations, it’s like we don’t have a name. All of us are either Sir or Ma’am.

I understand that it confuses Britons. But like language, words take on new meaning once they are adopted and used by other cultures (rightfully or otherwise). Britons have definitely asked me about this, and I gave them this same explanation time and time again.

This blog you have seen is my work blog. It is a teacher’s blog. This is where I keep in touch with my students and I even supplement my course through here. It is only natural that I call myself Sir Martin because that is how my intended audience knows me. (Thus I am not surprised when my unintended audience — like you — finds it surprising.) And I can guarantee that even if I drop all references of “Sir”, they would still refer to me as that in their comments.

Anyway, thanks for the comment. But, you are right. This is unsolicited advice, and I accept your apology. I hope this makes things clear for you.

Regards,
Martin

It’s really interesting how words matter. And like all things, their meanings change throughout the years. I am sorry if Francis de los Reyes found it “dodgy” but I have nothing to apologize for. And neither does he actually.

I am sure that one day, words will shift once more and students will call their teachers by Mr. or Ms., and it may even come to a point that they call them by their first names. That would be interesting to see.

And Francis, if in their comments you see submission and agreement-seeking, I suggest you read my post on Atheism. I don’t have more examples of them disagreeing with me on my blog, but you should see us in the classroom where it really is back and forth. Even the most heated arguments in class begin and end with Sir.

Also, you’ve read their comments on my Confession posts where I trace my path towards becoming their teacher. There is nothing but endearment in their responses, since that is how we are in real life.

You come from a time when you boycott classes and rally in the streets. Now we are at a time when we’re getting kids excited to stay in the classroom once again. (And this blog is an extension of that classroom.) Students are free to call me whatever they want, and clearly they have settled for Sir.

No way should everyone else (and they don’t). But this blog is dedicated to my students.

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22 Comments

  1. I agree, it is a common call for all teachers today. Drop the Mr Perez or Mrs Santos, all teachers are called Sir or Ma’am today. Anyway, calling your teacher Sir or Ma’am is a sign of respect, rather than calling them as “Hey, Martin” or “Hey, Charles”..

    As for the Britons, wag na nating paki-alam kung ano ang iniisip nila, anyway we dont mind them calling their “nobles” as Sir, or Lady, in case of she’s a woman.

  2. Perhaps Sir is quite misleading to use. If you noticed, your name in the Wikipedia article on Gawad Kalinga is “Sir Martin Perez”, which makes you look like a knighted Briton lost in the Philippines. And that is similar to a Mongolian Keshik beating up Quechas.

    I play too much Civ 4. Sorry.

  3. Ah. That one I actually edited to just Martin Perez because of the very reason you mentioned. It just wasn’t appropriate beyond my blog. But eventually that whole reference got taken down.

  4. Sir Martin,
    when I studied in the USA – the training or ‘brainwashing’ actually about Sir and Maam did
    a lot to boost my grades in a way in California.
    ‘So polite’ and ‘So respectful’ were the comments I got my on report cards in High School. At a few jobs I worked in over there – the ‘training’ helped me a lot.
    As for the British – to them – being gentleman is a title earned. Here in Manila – being a gentleman is somnething learned.
    (sometimes) Sir Mike

  5. To be honest, why should you drop it when this is your blog? It’s snobbish but do you walk into people’s homes and tell them what and what not to do?

    Times have truly changed. Nonetheless, all this fuss about names and monikers are just the result of the old refusing to give way to the new. 😉

  6. i still think of my teachers from my school teachers as Sir / Ma’am ..

    How is Martin calling himself Sir Martin on his blog any different from some gamer refering to himself as Lord Whatnot or Sir Something in their own personal cyberspace?

    mohaps

  7. I think the comment of this guy Francis from Pisay’86 is very consistent on how he ended & briefly described himself— the comment rightfully belongs to the streets and straight to the gutter. Or if not just placed in a cage where like crabs they won’t wander pointlessly but instead pull each other back to the cage in any attempt to be free.

    In this digital age, people like Francis who still live,thrive & breathe the ’80’s boycott classes & go to street mentality will very soon get awashed and irrelevant.

    Sir Martin, Carry on what your blog has set out to do. Any name anyone will call you including what Brits might say is completely immaterial.

    At the end of the day, what matters most are values of respect, openness, teamwork, innovation, creativity & mental discipline that you have been cultivating amongst your students.

    These STRONG POSITIVE VALUES will help propel your students face the world more confidently & competitively thus helping make this flatworld a more level playing field.

    Great job, Sir Martin.

  8. my 10-year old son is very flattered every time a waiter or a shop attendant calls him “Sir”, and not at anytime did i associate that “sir” to a briton. in the same way that you call your blog “Sir Martin”, i have opted to remain “Sexy Mom”despite the furor raised by the “DecentMother”.

    i, too, have been referencing you as “Sir Martin”, if anyone has asked me about Martin Perez, i would not even have thought you were referred to.

  9. True. It’s just Sir or Ma’am here. Teachers, clients, you name it.

    Since I’m teaching, I’m now suddenly “Sir Alex.” I even warn my students not to use “Prof” since that’s an official rank in the University and I’m still just a lowly instructor. But “Sir” and “Ma’am” just comes naturally associated with today’s teachers. The effect of time, I guess.

    In any case, why drop the “Sir.” It has become your identity anyway.

    Kudos for always being an exemplary educator, Sir Martin.

  10. that’s wat we pisay students must know not only from you but from others and I think the british knights and officials is lost here when you call a male person “sir”

  11. Hi Martin,

    At the risk of belaboring the issue, allow me to at least defend the 80’s 🙂 There was Ninoy, and the end of Marcos, and the first People Power rev, and Madonna, and Michael Jackson – you get the point. I guess in a few days, “Pisay” the movie, directed by our batchmate Aureaus Solito, and co-produced by our batch, will be showing. So your students who were born in the mid-90’s (this “digital age”) can see some of the foolish things we did then. (There, I’ve done my share of plugging).

    I am happy that in the classroom, your students can disagree and argue with you. Like you said, not many examples on this blog, and the Atheism post- well aside from Rob, I didn’t see much there either. The easiest way to get heated discussions is also to post anything related to religion, so I wouldn’t give too many points for that. That was the main point of my first note anyway- that students, at this formative stage, not be blindly submissive to authority. Again, they can call you what they wish, but it is different (at least to me) when you call yourself “Sir”. Maybe I am giving this too much weight, and if you think that this is not a factor, then that is fine. Forgive the musings of the old.

    One would think though, that some of the comments on this post suggest otherwise. Your students have come to the rescue, and without knowing anything about me, one student has managed to pass judgment on my life. This is exactly what I am talking about- the danger of hero-worship and the lack of critical thinking. No hard feelings- I am too old for this 🙂
    But I hope that Pisay students will always be critical thinkers, especially those in Social Studies.

    Also, lest I give the wrong impression, my experience with the legendary Mrs. Ladera is a badge of honor I am proud to carry, and I suspect she enjoyed the challenge.

    Francis
    -Best in Social Science Awardee, Pisay 1986, Student Alliance President, 1985-86 🙂

  12. Francis,

    You misread and I wouldn’t want people thinking that you jump quickly to conclusions. That person who judged you is not my student. The rest of them just found it too ridiculous. The replies you see here come from all over the Philippine blogging community. I also think that it is important that students are able to discuss and disagree about religion since that is one aspect of their lives where they are taught to readily acquiesce, but you should know that. Besides, you don’t know Rob and I, so I wouldn’t give much points for that. And by the way, I find a person bannering his social science resume in a blog comment “dodgy”, but that’s just me. I can’t relate with the Mrs. Ladera reference though, since I’ve never met her. Sorry for that. Anyway, I hope you enjoy “Pisay”. Looks great so far and you guys have a lot to be proud of. Cheers.

  13. Completely agree, Francis misread…big time!

    I am not a Sir Martin student but one that definitely admires his work and passion towards sharing what he knows to help shape the younger set. One that spends enough time in Sir Martin’s blog to fully appreciate the great dynamics this teacher has with his students besides just religion.

    I have lived thru the late 50’s to present. I fully understand what happened even before the ’80s and beyond. The only one thing I can say constant throughout is change. It continues to as I comment. And the important thing is how one learns in order to adopt & live with it…and win!

    I need not boycott my classes & go to the streets, argue in a “critical & submissive” way to any of my teachers. Yet, I continue to live life guided by strong positive values which I saw in Sir Martin’s blog. Only designed differently & more attuned to the times.

    I have survived, very comfortably & without “critical thinking” not only my classes… I continue to survive life’s ever changing dynamics both locally & globally with a great dose of common sense and understanding on how people & the world works.

    I am not to judge you Francis. I don’t even know you. But the way you expressed yourself surely says a lot transparently.I respect your pride, badge of honor and awards that made you enjoyed the challenge & survived.

    But as far as my standards, I continue to give all points to Sir Martin.

    Cheers!

  14. Alec, putting aside this discussion for a moment, thank you for your unbelievable support. It really means so much to me. It’s really great to just hear from those who read and observe, so I appreciate this — not even the defense, but the confidence you put in me. I will continue to do my best in everything. Thank you once again.

  15. oh yes I can see lots of blind submission to authority yes yes we are robots woot woot ha ha ha ha bzzt bzzt

    -The Flying Chicken, Best in Biological Engineering and Genetic Manipulation Awardee, Oxford-Yale-Hamsterdam University 2010, Lord Mastermind of the Glorious Nation of Haiti, 2005-06

    …arr, just joking, all in good humor and personal expression.

  16. I remember someone telling a friend that he was inconsistent because he often used expressions of respect but firmly stood up for things he believed in.

    It’s just funny how some people think you can’t be both respectful and strong at the same time.

  17. delos has got a stick up his ass and this has got nothing to do with Pisay’86, the People Power Revolution, New Wave, etc…

    Pre, putok ngayon ang Pisay pati na rin ang batch natin dahil sa achievements ni Aris. Mukhang feel na feel mo ah pre! Nakalimutan mo pala banggitin na Adelfa ka rin (Adelfa ka nga ba? parang ata…)

  18. oh wow i’m so lateXD

    so this is where the real debate wentXD

    *rofl*

    well, iunno with all you older people (and hell this must sound disrespectful) but i kinda understand the context (ooh. ethosXD) in which you say all these stuff (which is another way of saying i understand but i don’t want to look too trying hard since yeah, i’m sure that during the 80’s, my parents had no notions of conceiving me yet and thus i’ll never truly understand what went on) but i hope you’d trust me when i say the “sir” term is firstly a matter of simple respect to a senior such as a teacher in this case.

    and when you get closer to sir m (i think i am, am i, sir?O_o) it becomes a sort of term of endearment (not that way, lol@@) or uh. oh yeah, i think sir’s right in saying that we forget he has a name and use sir insteadXD peace, sirXD and yeah, you kind of stick it in every other sentence like an english “po”XD nothing to it.

    him using it in his blog was a simple “mistake” i believe. (not that i find it erroneous or anything) but it made us comfy knowing that it was really sir martin’s blog we were stealing powerpoint presentations from. and it made it seem like a virtual classroom which felt real cool. (it still does, so there:D)

    and yes, while i respect and admire sir m very much, i don’t think i’m becoming a docile brainwashed little lamb with no opinion of my own by saying sir.

    yays. baaa. ^^

  19. Joey,

    Hey…buti ka pa nandiyan ka sa Pisay….How I miss those days?….I too would wanna go back to the Philippines (and make a sacrifice) and teach in Pisay…if they would want me to….LOLOL…funny blog and more power….and Aris wow…

    Mrs. Ladera is quite a memory….remember (the canta-ritas attempt)….LOLOL..paano kung siya iyong makainom ng punch…

    Go ADELFA!!! lolol…nakaka homesick

    Dominic

  20. I’m not a writer. I work in the technology field. So it amazes me how so much can written about a title.

    And look, I’ve added to it 😦

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