For rem tanauan, Love (with a capital letter) can be learned, taught, lived and shared. It is “a set of highly learnable skills.” At the same time, it “is in the core of all”—it is human nature. And yet, Rem says, we often misunderstand it.
The website aims to help readers rethink what Love is and discover different ways of using it in practical matters. But Pathfinder’s Commune (PC) is more than just a website. It is a “radical learning pathway” that combines “classroom learning, support group, informal discussions, get-together, and spiritual retreat” all in the aim of understanding Love’s essence.
In PC, Rem’s love for teaching is evident. It will take a while before he would train in facilitation via Ginhawa where I first met him. But around this time (2012), Rem was a teacher. Based on my experience of his work, he never really let go of this teaching mindset and, instead, combined it with his facilitation.
Facilitation has a different approach to guiding learners compared to teaching. A facilitator is like a librarian who simply provides learners suggestions and resources that they can use in creating their own self-directed learning project. Facilitors do not direct the flow of learning; they simply provide support when requested. Their success is measured by how much they could stay in the background. A teacher, on the other hand, formulates the learning path and demonstrates it so that the student can follow. Although not all of them act this way, teachers are often expected to be holders of knowledge that they pour into the empty heads of students. Unlike the facilitator who directs learners to resources, the teacher is the resource.
Rem was both a teacher and facilitator because he can both be a resource and a guide to other resources. He experimented and perhaps perfected this combination in his last course and community, Tungko ng Tula. When he created the curriculum for the course, he was in teacher mode. But when he presented the curriculum to the group, he let his students mold the curriculum based on their own biases and experiences, never really preaching a single interpretation of the curriculum. In fact, especially in the first iteration of the course, the curriculum served simply as a structure but not really a content for the course. The content was what came our of the conversations that the structure prompted.
Rem directs the flow of classses by introducing activities, questions, and assignments, but he does not do all of the talking. He allows students to do the talking and from the inputs of the students, inform the next lesson. This was most pronounced in the first iteration of Tungko ng Tula, when Rem created the lessons in between classes.
Personally, I would have liked Rem to totally let go of the curriculum and be more of a facilitator to empower us to teach ourselves. But reading his overview of PC made me understand where Rem came from. Tungko ng Tula was his first experiment in combining teaching and facilitation and he nailed it. Given more time, perhaps, he could have realized that he was more of a facilitator than a teacher (or vice versa).