Monday, August 29, 2005

Educate For What? - Fr. Ben J. Villote

The question is, 'educate for what'
First posted 07:50am (Mla time) May 29, 2005
By Fr. Ruben J. Villote


THE FOLLOWING excerpt was written as the school year opened some time during the Marcos regime. As you will notice, the letter begins to sound less anti-Marcos and more anti-colonial ("an education-of-the-intellect-for-profit-making") as it went on. It is quite old but still very relevant today.

You might want to guess whether the author of this Letter to the Editor, as published by the Weekly Graphic during the Marcos reign, could hope for a change in the values education of the Filipino, at least within the Marcos years. Well, Marcos has been dead for 16 years now, while GMA (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) will be around for some more years.

Meanwhile, the sinking state of the Filipino's education seems to be at its worst. It's about time the Filipino Youth of this generation and the next, move on from the past, face the Arroyo years, and start giving birth to the next generation of "truly educated Filipinos."

(Read the Weekly Graphic letter again.)
“According to this conception, the sole function of EDUCATION was to open the way to thinking and knowing, and the school, as the outstanding organ for the people's EDUCATION, must serve that end exclusively.” - Albert Einstein, 1879-1955, German-born American Physicist 

***************************************************************************
Evolving our own kind of education
(Letter to the Editor published in the Weekly Graphic in the early '70s)

Everybody who goes to school, we presume, wants an education. And the education everybody wants, we also presume, is a "money-making" education. This may sound insulting to our "scholars" and "educators," but let us be honest.

Ask any parent who sends a son or daughter to school, or any student who struggles for a diploma. They all have a secret dream. They want to go abroad, if they can, either to study further or work, or both. But their ultimate dream is "to earn a fast buck," and have enough to put up a business, and be as rich as that family who owns a chain of restaurants, apartment houses, cars, racehorses, yachts, diamonds and every imaginable thing money can buy. And so everybody wants to be "intelligent" by going to school. The school-we are made to believe-will educate our intellect, and will make us intelligent, shrewd and smart enough to outsmart and outrace everybody else to the top.

And so, we tell our children to take up economics or business administration or medicine or hotel management-"because there is money in it if you make good." And so, "money" has become the be-all and end-all objective of Western education, and this colonial brand of education seems to be the only "education" we know. It is an "education-of-the-intellect-for-profit-making."

Why don't we Filipinos evolve our own definition of education for a change? Why can't we liberate ourselves from this colonial concept of "profit-making" and "power-grabbing" type of education which for centuries has only been used by the West to exploit and oppress those whom they have "educated"? Why don't we start educating ourselves instead by first educating not only our intellects but also our hearts? This may sound romantic and naive to many of us but it is only because we have long been imprisoned by the culture and value judgments of the West which has taught us that the only education there is, is the education-of-the-intellect-for-profit-making.

We have never gotten used to the concept of education-of-the-heart-for-sharing. Colonial education, for example, has taught us that man is like a machine with parts like the eyes, ears, nose and so on, which operate like cogs: the eyes see, the ears hear, the nose smells, and so on. We were never taught, for example, that we can listen not only with our ears but also with our mind and our heart, and that our mind can also see and touch, and our heart can also hear and see.

This is very Oriental but Orientals have been civilized long, long before the Europeans and the Americans. It is only when we allowed ourselves to be "developed" and "educated" by the West that we, Filipinos, became as robotized and dehumanized as the West. All we think about now is "how can I get the most out of you, how can I and my family get rich quick, how can I grab that wealth from your family, how can I gimmick you into giving me 1/3 of your life so that I can use and exploit it to grab more money and power?"

Thousands of American youths are leaving their families to become monks or hermits precisely because they are sick and tired of their own brand of education. They are called "drop-outs" and "freaks" by their parents. But these youths are reaching for something much more meaningful than power and money, and they cannot find it in their parents. And here we are, Filipinos, worshipping the West for its "education." Is it not about time that we re-think and re-create our own, and share it with the West?


Source: Inquirer News Service Editor's Note: Published on page Q4 of the May 29, 2005 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer 



“EDUCATION is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.” - Edward Everett, 1794-1865, American Statesman, Scholar



“On the EDUCATION of the people of this country the fate of the country depends.” - Benjamin Disraeli, 1804-1881, British Statesman, Prime Minister


No comments :