Pacete: The survival of education (Part 2)

OUR teachers during the reign of Covid-19 should be resourceful under coeducational education. They should make their own modules using the available references. It may not be easy, but it is possible. Sometimes this is annoying because when the hardware from the central office arrives, there is a possibility that the local hardware will be put aside.

During the Spanish period, no teaching material or teaching material was available other than copies of the “katon”. The pupils were called individually to recite the letters of the alphabet from memory, as well as a few paragraphs and prayers in Spanish. Learners have become human parrots.

Like priests, “maestros” could be very strict. They inflicted corporal punishment on their students. They usually carried a wooden paddle called a “palmeta” to strike the palms or buttocks of stray students. It was the way the teacher disciplined the students. Parents gave authority to “maestros” for the sake of their children.

Addition and subtraction were sometimes illustrated using matches. Students never learned the multiplication table and sometimes could never count more than their ten fingers. In some classes, writing was learned using “palotes,” a sheet of paper with about two rows of oblique lines printed on it.

The education of the rich was expensive. Children from poor families grew up as laborers in the fields, servants in large houses or simply became “vaqueros” or shepherds. Some were able to learn “urbanidad” (politeness) from the good masters who taught their servants by proxy the practical things of life. It was education under Spain.

The massive Americanization of generations of Filipinos through education began in 1898 when some American soldiers opened classes for Filipino schoolchildren. Then, in June 1901, a group of 48 teachers came on the ship “Sheridan”. They immediately took over the task started by the military.

On April 21, 1901, the biggest batch of American teachers arrived. They were 540 aboard the ship “Thomas”. They later became known as the “Thomasites,” after the converted cruise ship that had transported them from San Francisco, California.

While the Spaniards conquered the “Indios” with the cross and sword, the Americans tamed the Filipinos by using education to penetrate the heart and mind. American professors graduated a generation of Filipinos who spoke English, loved all things American, and had forgotten the bitterness of the Filipino-American War.

A few more years, their students were able to earn university degrees and went on to hold key positions in government and business. We are made to understand that education in America will be free for all and that it will tend to adapt the people to the duties of citizenship and to the ordinary activity of a civilized community.

It was the foundation of Filipino education under two colonial powers. During the reign of Covid-19, the Ministry of Education is working hard for the survival of Philippine education. Secretary Leonor Briones wants to adopt all possible modalities to adapt to the situation. For the secretary, education is also survival.

Filipino teachers facing risk could be heroes, martyrs, or a sacrificial herd. The story will unfold in the future that in times of pandemic, in the Philippines, there were teachers who stood up to prove that they are not “useless”!

Wise teachers believe that life is a mixture of good days and bad, victory and defeat, give and take. Mabuhay ang teachers!

Edward K. Thompson