The reason for this discussion is because there is much talk again concerning the proposed return of the teaching of good manners and right conduct in Philippine schools specifically in basic education. It seemed that the former scheme of teaching values education has failed. The syllabi approved during the incumbency of DepEd Secretary Lourdes Quisumbing, who was my former boss in Miriam College was in fact very comprehensive that it was indeed studied from the different ethnic groups in the whole archipelago. It was indeed made to highlight what was basically good about the Filipino which sets him apart from the different nationalities and culture groups. I was fortunate in fact, that when I transferred to the public schools, I became one of the pioneers in the teaching of values education. Dr. Quisumbing was pleasantly surprised when Iet her during her visit to the former Las Pinas Municipal High School where I transferred to become a simple teacher relinquishing my post as principal of a special school. The plan seemed to be working. However even during the in- depth workshops before the launch, I have already expressed my doubts to our well-meaning mentors. I was new in the public school system and yet my experience as a psychologist made me realize one great blunder in the program launch.
Although the Secretary made it clear that the pioneering teachers should be beyond reproach as they were to teach values, the lower rungs of leadership had a weak follow through such that those who were designated to attend the workshops and ultimately the first batch of values education teachers were predominantly problematic when they were chosen. This had been my observation. In fact, when I became a principal I was able to validate this observation. Therefore, the curriculum that was meant to make a difference in the moral recovery of the nation was meant to fail from the very start. And now, its déjà vu! I can feel the same eagerness for reforms once again. I hope they will implement it more appropriately this time. For what was the great blunder I observed? Only this, that the teachers chosen to become pioneers were not beyond reproach. In fact, they were not good models or exemplars. I can talk about it freely this time because I have no person to identify since most of them have died or retired. But the reason why they were chosen by the principals and their department heads are as follows; 1) They are disobedient to authority., 2) They are usually absent, late and unprepared to meet their classes, 3) They are problematic about their own families and 4 ) They have sexual identity issues or in other words, they are either gay or lesbian. I asked the principals and department heads I know concerning their choices and the two outstanding answers they gave were: 1) their teaching of values education may enlighten them to change and therefore change them for good and 2) their transfer to a new department will give them a fresh start and solve the problems of their present department concerning them at the same time. Both ways, they were bad judgment. The moral recovery of the nation is at stake here and they were only addressing symptoms of their respective schools and departments. It was a selfish stance from the very start.
They are bad judgments for the simple reason that they are illogical as I would be willing demonstrate:
Educational truth states that: You can not teach what you don’t have.
The teachers chosen don’t have the values they are expected to teach.
Ergo, they cannot teach values.
Some argue that these were good teachers except that they have personality problems. Well, these principals and department heads are not aware of the fact that values are not just taught but are rather preferred by experts to be caught in order to cherish. Hence;
Teachers chosen to teach values should be role models but have personality problems.
Personality problems manifest inappropriate behavior which can be imitated.
Ergo, they can not serve as role models since what is inappropriate can be imitated.
But in these modern times, when man is deified selfishly and God is shown irreverence and even mocked by so called atheists, the best foundation for a good or appropriate value system for good behavior to flower is one’s belief in God. Said briefly but wisely, “Wisdom is the fear of God.” I therefore present here two more important syllogisms. The first is St. Anselm”s Ontological proof of God’s existence. And he said:
It is possible that God exists.
It is necessary that God exists.
Ergo, God exists.
First, the class pause to contemplate if it is possible that God can exist. Then they discover the necessity of His existence and so therefore they have to conclude that He exists. And if the teacher is good drawing deductions for the first two premises he makes the class realize that God exists. Therefore, there is in deed a good reason to be good.
Then, let me borrow the premises of William L. Craig, a modern philosopher who posits thus:
If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.
Objectives, moral values and duties exist.
Ergo, God exists.
One may notice that the completed syllogism of Craig’s Moral Argument is only the recycled version of St. Anselm’s proof but here he fills his premises with the elements which make men and his society good. Here, a good teacher can easily explain why it is necessary to be good.
Now, for the future teachers of Good Manners and right Conduct from where I also learned how to be a good man apart from the Cathechism, which is now being undermined by current church dispensation, I hope and pray the best for you. May you succeed where we have failed.
Dr. Ricardo B. de los Santos
Pioneer, Values Education