SO… When I started writing this column over a year ago, my first musings included a two-part column about our educational system. The hope then was that we would all begin to see changes which, of course, would benefit our learners. Much to my non-surprise, the basic education world is still wandering around in the academic wilderness with clear direction nowhere in sight.
I suppose my disappointment is more in the bureaucracy which steers our school system. It makes me wonder how many of those in the “Deafartment of Education” (choose your own emphasis… can be Deaf, can be fart) are truly there to worry about how to improve things; and how many are there as grunts who are only concerned with looking like they’re doing the job so they can hang on till retirement. Many of the questions I started asking almost ten years ago remain unanswered. Sadly, the arrogant attitude of our so-called “DeafEd” brass shows a demeanor which refuses to be questioned, refuses to be presented with different perspectives and ideas. Very contrary to the aim of education.
We as a community and a nation should be involved in this discussion. After all, to paraphrase their encouraging slogan, education is the answer. My contention has always been and continues to be this—do we know the difference between educated and literate? Yes, we pride ourselves in saying that as a country we have a high percentage of educated Filipinos. But look around. Are we an educated country? Or merely literate?
Until we realize that education goes much further than our ability to read and write, we are doomed to go to hell in a handbasket. What are our young people learning? And what are the adult products of our educational system showing us? Certainly not a very positive sight. For one, the rise of criminality is more than an economic problem. How convenient to say that one is driven to criminality because of “kapit-patalim”. But don’t one’s values and ethics play a part in this? As parents, we all know that Values is a major subject in the DeafEd curriculum. So…?
Since reading and writing are basic, not just in education but as a life skill, let’s assume it to be the best tool in our learning toolbox. Yes, almost all Filipinos can to some degree read and write. But knowing what to do with those tools seems to be what’s lacking. In an ideal world, that is all we need to become educated, considering that everything that can be known is available to be read and considered. And yet we (myself included) waste our valuable irreplaceable time on reading and writing stupidity on social media, not even bothering to click on links to interesting and/or educational sites.
The proliferation of what we fondly call “fake news” is a case in point. In my early years, we already had fake news. It was called chismis. Information which was neither confirmed nor sourced from someone reliable, but accepted as possibly true for the sake of talking about someone’s misery. We didn’t even bother to apply a modicum of critical thinking to weigh the veracity of it. Come to think of it, there is in us the ability to confirm a piece of fake news from other sources, to arrive at some sort of decent conclusion.
Example. When showman Vic Sotto’s obit appeared on Facebook, many people took it upon their sympathetic selves to share the “news” so as to ensure a well-informed newsfeed. I wonder how many thinking people took the time to wait for that day’s edition of Eat Bulaga to verify if this was true. As simple as that. But we clicked the Share button instead.
I firmly believe that our educational system is turning us into fools, unable to figure things out for ourselves, unable to discern, unable to expand our knowledge base. We are not being taught how to use the best tools in our toolbox. Read. Because by so doing, all the information available in the www, in the libraries, everywhere is made available to you. Write. Because in so doing, you are forced to organize your thoughts, process them, sift through them to make sense of all that you read and know. Tools in the toolbox. You have to know that a hammer is not used for sewing pants. Unless you figure out a brilliant way to do so. In which case, I will be the first in line to nominate you for a Nobel Prize in creative thinking.
Don’t be a fool. And learn how to use your toolbox.