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Learning Institutions’ Role on Moral and Intellectual Growth of Students
Joseph Reylan Viray Polytechnic University of the Philippines Manila
(A paper delivered in Quezon City, Manila, Lucena City, Laguna and Pampanga for the National Youth Assembly for Moral Leadership, Regional Conventions sponsored by Montessori Professional College, 2010)
Abstract Learning institutions are breeding grounds of well balanced individuals. Undoubtedly, schools develop students’ capacity to think and nurture the latter’s moral fibers. Schools’ primary role is to mould the students to become not only thinking beings but feeling/moral beings as well. These beings are the ones needed by this society which is going down the drain in terms of morality. With this in mind, the author discusses in this paper the following interrelated sections: (1) the Philippine Society and its cry for moral resurgence; (2) the role of learning institutions to mould a well balanced individual; (3) challenges/problems confronting young people; (4) how top face these challenges; and (5) the need to act toward change. Introduction (I am extremely delighted to be with brilliant and beautiful young people like you this morning. It even gives me more delight and enthusiasm that I am with my fellow kapampangans to whom I can say with vigor the words “I belong”.) I was tasked this morning to talk about your seminar theme “ Molding the Minds and moral values of today’s Montessorians”. Admittedly, I could say that the theme really gave me difficult days to ponder upon it and think of what might be the things and facts that I could possibly share with you. After efforts exerted and precious time elapsed, I was able to gather my thoughts and organize my ideas to enable me to be your effective lecturer this morning.
With humility I would like to offer you a very simple and perhaps down to earth presentation. I will start the discussion with a situationer—that is I will put things in perspective by giving you accounts and circumstances about the society in terms of education and morality. After providing you with considerable information about the society at present, I will go directly to the meat of the paper-that is the role of learning institutions like MPC in molding a well balanced individual. Discussions will also be had on the different challenges and problems which confront the youth in their quest for moral and intellectual growth. I will also give you some tips and suggestions on how to face these challenges and be better persons that you can be. I will conclude the paper by calling all the youth, that would include you Monterssorians, to act and move towards a genuine social change. § 1 Philippine Society and Its Cry for Moral Resurgence As a country, the Republic of the Philippines had been beset in the last few years with issues and problems on morality and/or moral decline. Problems had been obvious in most spheres of the Filipino society. Moral problems permeated government and politics, schools, business, media , NGOs, foundations and even religious denominations. But because of constraints as to time, I could not give you all the details and facts of immorality in all the spheres. I would only concentrate on corruption in the Philippines. Graft and corruption is the foremost moral problem that the country has. It has become systemic. This only means that it has penetrated government offices and agencies from the lowest rank of employees to the top management levels. The sad thing is that ordinary Pinoys cultivated a worst form of indifference towards the issue that is why they tend to be mum and tight-lipped about it. This indifference largely contributed to the gravity of the problem. Other analysts would speculate that the problem of corruption is alos being reinforced and fueled by some ambivalent cultural values that we have such as palakasan, pakikisama, utang na loob, and family centeredness. At some point, this claim is true. You go to any government agency like LTO, DFA, Civil Registry or other offices where you would transact your business such as securing Driver’s license, passports, birth certificates, etc. the first thing that you would search or look for would be your kakilalas in the agency and hope that your kakilala would help you facilitate the process. We tend to solicit help by and through palakasan.
I give you another scenario. A government employee who goes by the name TIBO discovered anomalous transactions on the road project by his Mayor Boss. The road was constructed with substandard materials and chunks of the funds have been pocketed by the Mayor Boss. But because this Mayor Boss was a friend, a kumpadre and was the one who hired him for his post in the government service, TIBO did not do anything about it. Tibo was afraid that his friendship with the Mayor Boss would be severely affected and that he would be condemned by the society for being a person na Walang Utang na Loob. This is where our value of pakikisama and utang na loob would come in. At times, the major motivation of government officials in committing corruption is their love for their family. Their meager salaries could not cover all their expenditures at home. So what they do, thogu this is not a sufficient and valid justification, is they augment their salaries by penetrating corrupt practices like kotong, pampadulas, cut, SOP, 10 percent, etc. This validates the claim of Plato, an ancient sage, that the family is the root of corruption. That is why, during his time, Plato even suggested that a Statesman must forget his attachments with his family in order to become a worthy and dignified leader of the state. (Of course, this suggestion of Plato is not acceptable especially to Filipinos who valued their family attachments so much.) In the last survey conducted by Transparency International (2009 Index), Philippines was among the top 40 most corrupt countries in the world. It ranked number 39 in the world and number 5 in South East Asia. The Filipino people have already developed a kind of desperation and hopelessness in the system. In fact, a survey conducted by Social Weather Station in 2007 as to the satisfaction of respondents on the efforts of National Administration in eradicating graft and corruption has yielded negative results from the time of Pres. Cory Aquino to the time of Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo. This indicates that the Filipino people are pessimistic about the situation. It is very annoying that our Presidents from Cory to GMA have been perceived to be corrupt although of varying levels. GMA was perceived to be the most corrupt. And Cory was See, considered as less corrupt compared to other presidents—but corrupt just the same. Filipinos perceive the scenario as really bleak.
Graft and corruption is not only prevalent in government service and politics. In fact, businesses like construction companies and industrial suppliers do contribute to the systemic corruption. Most construction companies and industrial suppliers that transact business with government agencies would offer bribes to government officials to be favored in biddings. It is also common knowledge that for a government project to be awarded, companies must not only offer bribes but also must add 30 to 50 % mark up price to the project cost. And the increase amount would also be given to officials as additional payoffs. Some media practitioners who are acting as PR staff of business tycoons and politicians would tend to gloss allegations of corruption in exchange of perks, junkets and huge amount in envelopes. This is a form of corruption in the media. It is a known fact that for a press conference to be successful, envelopes with cast must be prepared. With this scenario, the Philippine society aches for moral recovery or resurgence. There should be ways by which this immorality that beset our nation must, it not totally be eradicated—which is next to impossibility, be at least considerably diminished. There should be people, institutions, organizations that would take the cudgels and start to actions NOW. Arguably, this is because we cannot afford to continue our social living this way. Because there are only 37 countries that separate us from the most corrupt nation which is Somalia. You know friends what happened to Somalia. Civil wars. Hunger. Deaths. Chaos. § 2 Role of Learning Institutions in Molding a Well-Balanced Individual
It is my opinion friends that corruption, immorality, and other social problems of the country may be solved through collaborative efforts and actions by and among stakeholders—US or TAYO. Institutions like family, church, government, business and school must be at the forefront of this moral struggle. Schools especially must start to be instruments of change, growth and development. Learning institutions should start to mold well-balanced individuals through and by holistic education. A well-balanced individual is an individual who has strong intellectual capacities and endowed
with moral/emotional/aesthetic value orientation as well. It must produce individuals who are both thinking and feeling beings. It should be noted that it is not enough that the school develop one’s intellectual faculties. Schools alongside must cultivate in the student, values of compassion, honesty, dignity, integrity, love for God and fellowmen, and other positive values. I will illustrate this by narrating a story about a scientist who was so popular and the most hunted doctor of the Nazi Regime. His name is Dr. Joseph Mengele. No doubt, Mengele was a man of intellect having earned doctorates in Anthropology and Medecine from Munich University and Frankfurt University respectively. A very brilliant guy, he was recruited to join the Nazi Regime of Hitler. His cruelties, however, remain until this day to be images of evil and vileness. Mengele lead the experiments of Hitler using living individuals as samples. It would be very graphic to demonstrate all his experiments. But I will endeavor to give you some to picture the man who was regarded by history as “ Angel of Death”. Mengele’s experiments also included attempts to change eye color by injecting chemicals into children’s eyes, various amputations of limbs and other brutal surgeries. Rena Gelissen’s account of her time in Auschwitz details certain experiments performed on female prisoners around October 1943. Mengle would experiment on the chosen girls, performing sterilization and shock treatments. Most of the victims died, either due to the experiments or later infections. According to a website, “ Once Mengele’s assistant rounded up 14 pairs of Roma twins during the night. Mengele placed them on his polished marble dissection table and put them to sleep. He then injected chloroform into their hearts, killing them instantly. Mengele then began dissecting and meticulously noting each and every piece of the twin bodies.” Certainly, Mengele was not a well-balanced individual. He was not compassionate and did not have empathy towards his fellow men. He was really an intelligent murderer. Munich University and Frankfurt University have produced a thinking being. However, they failed to make him a feeling being/compassionate being. Like Joseph Mengele, there are also politicians, business tycoons, community leaders in this country who boast about their intellectual capacities. Being graduates of topnotch schools and having earned highest degrees of education. However, they failed to become holistic and well-
balanced individuals for they have at some extent perpetrated immorality and vileness which caused extreme sufferings to our people. To reiterate my point, schools must offer and provide an environment where both the intellectual and emotional/moral faculties of the individual student are honed and cultivated. This is what we call humanization of education. Or simply, to make students more humane. Three factors loom largely in this endeavor at the humanization of education. The objective must be accomplished through: (1) stimulation of the intellect, (2) an appeal to the emotions, (3) the energizing of the moral fibre in man. These I think are the basic roles of learning institutions to make individuals both thinking and feeling beings. Like any other learning institutions therefore, PUP is doing the same. PUP continues to mold its students to become thinking and feeling beings as well. What PUP does is that it inculcates in its students a sense of direction. That is, it teaches its students to realize their career paths. PUP gives them a fighting chance in this Alongside with it, students are thought the value of riendship, relationship with fellowmen, with God, with the public and their environment. competitive world who are possessed with Filipino positive values of katapatan, katalinuhan, katapangan, and the most important values of all—love or pagmamahal.
§ 3 Problems of Young People There are challenges that are confronting young people like you which prevent our schools to fulfill their mission and role. These problems may be categorized narrowly into the following: (1) relationships; (2) Finance, (3) Environment, and (4) lack of motivations. There are other problems that are faced by our young people but I would only focus on these four categories. Relationships. This category includes relationships of the student within and outside the family circle. Within the family, relatives who are unsupportive of the student’s inclination and interest and who are not good role models of moral living would certainly veer the student away from his
positive goals and aspirations he had set. Association with individuals who are wayward and not goal-oriented is also a contributing factor to the failure of schools to achieve their objective. Finance. Dropout rates in schools and universities are high because of financial problems. Students like you are forced to stop schooling because their parents could no longer afford the educational expenses that are incurred. Likely so, students who are out of school may not be given a chance to become the individual that society needs. Environment. This includes the circumstances and factors that would likely prevent the student from becoming moral and intellectual individual that the school wishes him to become such as unhampered prevalence of drugs and other vices, gambling, alcoholism, gangs, violence, and pornographic media. Lack of motivations. A student who run out reason to continue his quest for knowledge and morality through the aid of learning institutions would likely stop and drop out. This is because he has no reason to drive and fuel him towards a positive goal. § 3 Face and Turn Problems to Opportunities
The above problems may be considered as restraining forces. They restrain and prevent the individual youth to achieve his goals. If these forces remain, change is never on the horizon. However, if the individual youth could transform these restraining forces and turn them to become driving forces. His goals could easily be achieved. (Refer to Jose Rizal’s experience in Dapitan; Refer also to Kurt LEwin’s Field Theory). § 4 Challenge to the Youth and to all of US. We are living in a dynamic field or social environment. This social environment and forces within it are giving us some clues of our collective fate or to borrow the term of Kurt Lewin our interdependent fate/our future. By employing Dr. Jose Rizal as a model, and how he was able to understand his place in the dynamic field, we could deliver the INEXISTENT FUTURE from the womb of the present field. Predicated from the above presentation, I suggest the following:
WE MUST HAVE AN OPEN MIND AND MUST BE SENSITIVE TOWARD OUR SOCIAL ENVIRONMENT. WE MUST CULTIVATE RIGHT INTENTION AND PURPOSE. WE MUST TURN RESTRAINING FORCES INTO DRIVING FORCES. WE MUST HAVE A POSITIVE OUTLOOK. WE MUST AVOID EXCUSES. FORCES. WE MUST HAVE THE WILL POWER TO EFFECT CHANGE. BECAUSE EXCUSE ARE POTENT RESTRAINING
TO TRULY KNOW SOMETHING, TRY TO CHANGE IT=KURT LEWIN…..
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