Text and Photo by Henrylito D. Tacio
After an incident trending on the reality show “Pinoy Big Brother” (PBB), where teen housemates called the three Filipino priests who were executed by garrote in 1872 – Mariano Gomez, Jose Burgos, and Jacinto Zamora – as Majoha instead of Gomburza Rob Domingo called for improvement of the education system in the Philippines.
Filipino educators and others protested. “You don’t get to blame the teachers or the education system itself,” said Aileen Rose Nadela-Cruz. “The teachers are undeniably doing their best to teach the students. It’s on the students who lack interest and discipline and neglect themselves from learning.”
“The educational system is in perfect working order,” Marinel Hizon Perez commented. “Teachers are unquestionably carrying out their responsibilities to educate your youngsters. However, there is a problem with certain PBB contestants. They are uninformed because they do not take their academics seriously. I believe they did not represent all of today’s kids.”
A certain Queen Sam called out the attention of PBB and Robi. “Do not blame it on the education system,” she wrote. “We teachers always do our 1000% to give them high quality education. If they don’t know basic education, it is their responsibility as a student. Also, their parents have to do something for them (poor parenting). If they have no focus on studying, that’s for sure they know nothing.”
“A little learning is a dangerous thing,” Alexander Pope once said. “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance,” Andy McIntyre once pointed out.
Indeed, education is very important. And it is a never-ending process. Just because you already know something – like finishing high school, getting a college degree, or have undergone training, you have to stop learning.
You need to continue learning. After all, the permanent thing in this world is change. If you stop learning, then you will be left behind. “Learning is like rowing upstream: not to advance is to drop back,” said a Chinese proverb.
Let me tell you an anecdote I read somewhere.
One night, three horsemen were riding across a desert. As they crossed the dry bed of a river, out of the darkness, a voice called, “Halt!” Although feeling surprised, they obeyed. The voice then told them to dismount, pick up a handful of pebbles, put them in their pockets, and remount.
The voice told them, “You have done what I have commanded you. Tomorrow, when the sun shines, you will be both glad and sorry.”
Mystified, the three horsemen continued their travel.
When the sun rose, they reached into their pockets and found that a miracle had happened. The pebbles had been transformed into diamonds, rubies, and other precious stones. They remembered the warning. They were both glad and sorry – glad that they had taken some and sorry that they had not taken more.
That’s the same thing with education.
Education doesn’t really mean going to school. There are people who don’t have a college diploma, and yet they became very successful. In fact, I have known some famous people who were high school dropouts but still managed to excel in their chosen careers. From Hollywood, Al Pacino, Cary Grant, Ellen Burstyn, and Tracey Ullman come to mind.
Others in the same category were Richard Avedon (photographer), Amadeo Peter Giannini (founder of the Bank of America), Peter Jennings (newscaster), Billy Joel (singer and songwriter), John Major (British prime minister), Herman Melville (author), James Naismith (inventor of basketball), Wayne Newton (singer), Arnold Schonberg (composer), Leon Uris (author), and Lawrence Welk (bandleader).
In the Philippines, I can think of the late filmmaker Lino Brocka. Although he quit college, it did not stop him to pursue his ambition: to direct some of the country’s high-caliber movies. In 1985, he was chosen as one of the five recipients of the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award.
There were others who were expelled from school. Comedian Richard Pryor was expelled from a Catholic grammar school in Peoria, Illinois, when the nuns discovered that his grandmother ran a string of brothels. Musician Roger Daltrey was expelled from Acton County Grammar School in England. “I was an evil little so-and-so,” he recalled. “I didn’t fit in.”
“The things taught in schools and colleges are not an education, but the means of education,” reminds Ralph Waldo Emerson. “A college degree is not a sign that one is a finished product but an indication a person is prepared for life,” Reverend Edward A. Malloy remarks.
Clifton L. Hall has also said, “It is easy – even natural to think of education as something that ends when one finishes school, or graduates from college, or is decorated with doctorate. But it might be nearer to the truth to say that real education begins when formal education ends.”
People who have degrees already may not go to school anymore, but it doesn’t mean they quit learning.
So, you think you are old now, and it’s a privilege to quit learning?
Well, it’s never too old to learn. A mother was having a hard time getting her son to go to school one morning. “Nobody likes me at school,” said the son. “The teachers don’t and the kids don’t. The superintendent wants to transfer me, the bus drivers hate me, the school board wants me to drop out, and the custodians have it in for me. I don’t want to go.”
“You’ve got to go,” the mother insisted. “You’re healthy. You have a lot to learn. You’ve got something to offer others. You are a leader. Besides, you are 42 years old. And you’re the school principal.”
To end this piece, allow me to quote the words of Henry Peter, Lord Brougham: “Education makes people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave.”