Carvajal: Learning for life

BESIDES religion, the other pillar our culture leans on heavily for sustenance is education. The system of education is the other major force for the status quo that like the religious system needs revolutionary changes if it is to help free us from the regressive colonial culture Spain and the U.S left us with.

Like the religious system, our educational system is markedly authoritarian. It is a system less of learning and more of dictation, memorization, and regurgitation. By placing a heavy premium on grades it does not encourage self-discipline, critical thinking and creativity. The subliminal message is that grades are all that matter and getting good ones is a straightforward business of spitting out during exams what the teacher had stuffed in class.

Self-discipline is not promoted because it is enough that the student should obey the teacher. (Thus when nobody is looking, because we lack self-discipline, we readily cross lines.) Critical thinking and the creative spirit are not developed because the textbook and the teacher have all the answers which alone could get you passing grades at exam time. (Our beauty contestants stammer when their final question cannot be answered with what they have memorized because they are not trained to think for themselves on the spot.)

If we want to progress we have to promote strong values of self-discipline, critical thinking and creativity. We have to learn to think for ourselves and do things out of conviction and not because parents, teachers, priests and government officials say so. We have to learn self-discipline so we do things because they are right and not because somebody is looking to kick our butt if we didn’t.

Blanche Marie Abellana, the psychometry topnotcher, therefore, edifies me when she encourages students to love learning and learn for its own sake and not for passing board exams. She is absolutely right although her exhortations are better addressed to lead personalities in our educational system because if students are to love learning, school must be less the drudgery of memorising what the teacher dishes out. School should include the fun of being awed by what critical thinking discovers and the thrill and excitement of savouring what one’s creative juices come up with.

For as long as we are not self-disciplined, are not able to think critically and creatively for ourselves, corrupt and hypocritical social institutions (parents, teachers, priests, government officials) will continue to tell us to “do what I say but not what I do.” We cannot mature into self-respecting persons if we only do what we are told and do them only if somebody’s looking.

Blanche Marie Abellana is right. Learning is for life.
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