Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Palasan: Liberating education

Spark of Law

I FINISHED my elementary, secondary, tertiary, post graduate, and law studies without questioning the long and expensive process I went through.

Everyone who wants to climb the social ladder has to go through the process. If you are not born with silver spoon, then burn your midnight candles.

I, too, did not question why I have Philippine history in all levels of my education, from elementary to post graduate. I just accepted as gospel truth the religious subjects I had to pass in high school, and even in my law studies.

More often than not, I had to do a lot of memorizing - the births and deaths of heroes, the different constitutions and their framers. In my religious studies where I was bombarded with since I studied at Xavier University, a catholic educational institution, I had to study the lives of saints and memorize significant dates and names.

After all the memory work in my religion subjects, I still went astray with my catholic faith, though am sure, I cherish the Christian values. Despite the overload of Philippine history, I am definitely not as patriot as Andres Bonifacio whose formal education was far below mine.

Thanks to Yoyoy Villame, may his soul rest in peace, I still recall Ferdinand Magellan came to the Philippine on March 16, 1521. With his song, many cannot forget the date.

The type of education which I went through may be correct in the 20th century. We had to amass information. We had to memorize a lot of things that we sometimes forget the birthday of our mother. We had 24 units in one semester and carry loads of school-prescribed books.

But when I see young kids carry in their backpacks eight books for their eight subjects, then there is something terribly wrong with our educational system. We educate the kids using the method of the past despite the radical, if not life-altering changes the internet has brought.

Still we bombard our kids with memory work. In one semester, we let our university students take Philippine history, physical education, music, art, Filipino, religion, well into the stage when they are supposed to be specialists in their fields.

We can concede to retain our educational method for elementary and secondary levels. But for heaven sake, why let our university students memorize still Philippine history, physical education, music, art, Filipino, religion, etc. well into their educational level when they have to be experts on their chosen field?

Why let them memorize when we can google anything we want to know? Data, information, dates, names, they are only a click away in our keyboard. We are rusting their minds instead of sharpening them.

Instead of memory work, we need to teach our kids to be critical thinkers. More than memory, out students should be able to synthesize the information that they get, and identify fake from real ones. With the barrage of fakery in the social media, we need to develop in our students the ability to perceive truth from lie, fiction from reality. Finally, our education should allow students to formulate their own world view, a synthesis of their knowledge and experience.

For our university students, let them focus on their chosen fields. Private schools should not be allowed to extort from parents by prescribing too many unnecessary subjects for the heck of raising the semestral tuition and matriculation. That is crass commercialism.

Hopefully, the day will come when we truly liberate our young with relevant education. But we cannot achieve this if our paradigm in education is still 20th century when we are living in the information age of the 21st century.

There must be a paradigm shift now.