Blog: What was Br. Armin thinking?

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By Richard Parcia A former Ateneo literature professor once imparted words to me that I will never forget. He said that the difference between rape and bad education policy is scale. The former violently screws an individual. The latter violently screws a whole generation. Most often, though, the former goes to jail. The latter goes to Malacanang. The report that Br. Armin Luistro?s plan to remove science in first grade was hardly noticed. That piece of news was relegated to the inside section of a major daily. Coincidentally, it was next to the pieces that reported metro street crimes and murder. While it hardly merited attention, the move will have a significant impact in our society. It is another setback in our educational system which others say is deteriorating. Personally, I don?t see it as that ? I only see it as badly confused. Perhaps, we are ought to be reminded about how the things in the modern world work so that we can get a better context on how an unconfused educational system is critically important. We all know the world in the past 50 years is totally different from the 50 years before that. Social scientists and economists see the parallelism of our time with that of the industrial revolution and it is not hard to see why. There are new ways to produce goods and there are new ways to sell them, as well. The efficiency of the process highlights the similarities of both generations. However, a few thinkers say that the similarities that can be observed might just be due to the growth that these ?new? things are offering. What is not seen is how these ?new? stuff came to be. In that matter, for them, it is more accurate to compare this generation with two significant periods in the past. The two periods, are the age of exploration and, at the micro level, the invention of the railroad system. These two periods are ages apart but are related in what they had accomplished and the byproducts that had been produced. The age of exploration, otherwise known as the Age of Discovery, was a very important event in world history because it bridged the gap between the old world and the new. The sense of wonder on that period was only arguably equaled by the Renaissance but the latter was equally plagued with political, and even economic, chaos. The Age of Discovery had the same problems but in a lesser scale. The period of the railroad system, on the other hand, did not have the same magnitude as the age of galleons and the adventure that came along with it. However, it is equally profound as it is in the period when efficiency exponentially increased. The age of exploration proved that there are more places to go. The railroad age was first to prove that those places can be reached faster. What are those two got to do with education policy? Simple. Both were driven by science and engineering. They were the periods wherein the generation of those who lived at that time became a generation of wonderment and of dreams. The countries which were smart enough to ride the ships and the trains were successful in defining their future and the generations after that. Now our present world is in the same situation. Modern telecommunications replaced the ship trade routes. The Internet has the replaced the train as the driver of an efficient supply chain. The world now is in another age of wonder. It is important that we don?t miss the boat. For us not to miss the tide, our people should be told about how these things are done. Our children should be psyched in such a way that their sense of adventure is tied with how things are working and how can it be improved. Not teaching science at an early age removes that possibility that our children can enjoy the adventure of discovery. The sense of wonder will be displaced by a sense of bewilderment. It will create a generation who will be afraid to look at the world with opportunity and hope. In fairness to Br. Armin, his intention, according to the report, was not to remove science but to teach it while teaching the other subjects. That will make science as a secondary option when our country needs it as a primary thrust. Doesn?t he know that our students are weak in that area? I once spoke with a Malaysian friend who shared to me the vision of Dr. Mahathir Mohammad. He said that it was the objective of their revered prime minister to send the first Malay into space. They accomplished that. Malaysia is definitely part of the modern age of discovery. What about us? Thus, my appeal to Br. Armin is to revisit his idea. I won?t argue with the adding of years in the curriculum. Having more years does have some benefits. However, please restore science in the first grade. I learned about Archimedes, Copernicus, and Galileo when I was in first grade. It did not make a Nobel laureate out of me but the sense of wonder hasn?t left me. I believe it is the same with a whole lot of people. A politician once said that every kid dreams of becoming president someday. That?s noble, there is no evil in that. But our country has a better future if we have every Filipino kid to dream of going to the moon and beyond. Wouldn?t that be more wonderful?]]>

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