Plug the gaps in our education

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

Schools and universities will once again open for another school year in just a few months, and the cities will be swarmed with students, the question about what authentic education is should be asked.

It would be a pity if after all the precious effort and money expended for the pursuit of education, something else is achieved. And this, sad to say, is not improbable.

We have met many people, otherwise quite educated in a certain way, but who display precisely the absence, or at least a serious deficiency in education. They do not know how to reason out, how to express themselves, how to relate parts with the whole.

They may be good, even experts, in some specialized field, but gravely wanting in basic virtues, like order, prudence, justice, or ignorant of what full human development is.

They may be giants in the things of the world, but pygmies in the things of the spirit. They may be quite adept with the computers and the other modern gadgets, but awkward with prayer and the practice of the teachings of the word of God.

Extrapolate this phenomenon to the whole of society or a good part of the world, then you will have a tremendous crisis at hand. This is no exaggeration. A good part of the big troubles we have at present can be traced to the kind of education we are having.

There are those who think that education is simply sending children to school, or simply a matter of learning some useful skill, getting a degree and some title, and being able to get a job.

Education is much more than these. It's not simply a commodity to have or to show off. It essentially starts with something intangible or spiritual, for it involves a quality, a habit, an orderly universe of virtues and values that should characterize the whole person, and not just some aspects of him.

Education is the transformation of the whole person. It involves the complete, not partial nor fragmented and broken, integration of all his aspects in accordance to the objective nature of man.

Unfortunately, even many of our higher institutions of learning fail to see this. Many of them just get contented with teaching some specialized knowledge and skill.

There is nothing wrong with that, as long as these specializations are done in the context of the over-all development of man. And as long as these specializations foster, not hinder, the appreciation of the complete and ultimate good of man.

The problem becomes a genuine crisis when these schools and universities do not have a clear vision of what man ought to be. Their anthropology is faulty, in that they focus only on some aspects of man, without a good grasp of what would comprise man's full development.

In other words, there are serious gaps in their vision of human development. This can happen in many ways.

When schools only give technical instruction or mere techniques and know-how, education can be considered incomplete. It's like saying that man is being developed with respect to his hands, but not so much with respect to his head.

When schools only involve themselves in secular sciences or social sciences, ignoring religion and the so-called sacred sciences, education is not served.

Such training makes man knowledgeable only about the things of this world, but quite deaf and blind with respect to spiritual and supernatural realities. Such training ill equips man to face the complete reality that concerns him.

One can become experts in biology and the other sciences, but quite deficient in the moral sense. This explains why there are now serious problems related to bio-ethics, for example.

These gaps and deficiencies should be plugged and attended to. This, to me, is a serious challenge we all have to tackle. It's a long way, there are a million steps to be taken, before we can declare some progress in this direction.

Who's going to take the lead in this endeavor? I would say, both the State and Church, in a manner of speaking, can sit down to thresh out concrete plans to solve this problem.

Education is a mixed matter involving both Church and State, because education is for man, and man is both body and soul, individual and social, citizen and faithful, temporal and eternal, of this world and beyond.

There are right ways and wrong ways of doing things. What is important is what others learned from what we did -- especially to the young and fragile minds.

There was a popular tagalog advertisement which says, "Sa mata ng isang bata, ang mali ay nagiging tama kapag ito ay ginagawa ng mga matatanda."