Good Education or Bust!

Good Education or Bust!

By Maridol Rañoa-Bismark

It was John F. Kennedy who said that “a child miseducated is a child lost.”

That’s why we parents work ourselves to the bone to give our child the best education we can afford. Let’s face it, good schools – with the exception of state-run universities where admission is tough – cost a lot. But most good things do. After all, a good education, unlike a house and lot, jewelry, and the most expensive car, cannot be stolen. It stays with you forever. You can even pass it on to your children, and they can pass it on to the next generation. It’s an heirloom of a different, more lasting kind.

How many humble men have triumphed from poverty because they refused to accept their lot and sought good education as a way out of dire straits?

Former presidents Ramon Magsaysay and Diosdado Macapagal were born poor, but they worked hard at getting the education that helped make them the top officials of the land.

The father of Sen. Manny Villar, one of the richest men in the country, got a job promotion after he got a year-long scholarship for higher education in the U.S.  The senator himself returned to his alma mater, the University of the Philippines, for a Masters degree in Business Administration.

Eight-division world champion and Sarangani congressman Manny Pacquaio dropped out of high school because of poverty. However, he took the high school equivalency exam that made him eligible to go to college. He is now taking up Business Management.

Manny is already on top of his game. He has everything. But he knew that getting a good education is one way of improving himself. Education, after all, as Aristotle says, is the mother of leadership. And a resume studded with degrees from reputable schools is a sure passport, not just to a job, but to a respectable position in any company.

In these tough times when competition for jobs is very keen, a degree from a good school is crucial. It will spell the difference between getting a job and staying at home, waiting for that all-important interview. It will distinguish the productive from the non-productive; the esteemed individual from the so-so. The productive ones lead more meaningful lives. They are happier since they contribute more to society. The non-productive ones turn drifters; neither here nor there in a world that’s already confusing as it is.

The choice is ours.  Do we let our children’s minds go fallow by giving them education that is less than what they deserve? Or do we develop their rich imagination and quench their thirst for learning by giving them good, priceless education? Just as important, do we develop in them a love for learning that will stay with them, even after they’re done with college and earning well?

For those of us who want only the best for our children, there is no choice. It’s good education–and a love for learning–or bust.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Making the Grade in Romania

Making the Grade in Romania

By Mari-An Santos

I have always been a diligent student. Studying is something I take very seriously, and so I am accustomed to getting good grades in school. Every day, I remember, I would have homework in at least two of my classes and a quiz the next day. I would stay up until late in the night to turn in a more than satisfactory paper; putting in as much study time as I could for upcoming examinations. This work ethic paid off and I graduated cum laude from university.

It took me by surprise then how classes are conducted so differently in Europe. Since my colleagues in my Masteral classes are working people, we only meet on weekends. Professors are not very strict with attendance. In fact, I was surprised to learn that there were actually more than 20 students enrolled in our block; only ten attended classes regularly.

Here in Romania, teachers prefer free-flowing discussions. They encourage students to give their thoughts and opinions. There are no quizzes or midterm exams, only a final paper and the final examination. The burden of learning rests almost entirely on the students’ shoulders—how bizarre!

Because the classes are not conducted in English, I’ve had to work double time on my language skills. I need to pay attention in class in order understand and follow the discussions. Usually, the professor stops in the middle of the class to summarize for me in English what has already been discussed—and to ask for my input. He does the same at the end of the class. In this case, I am challenged to snap back from a bubble of very little understanding, to understand everything that’s been discussed, and to formulate an opinion. This also means I cannot be distracted during class nor can I say “pass” when asked a question.

What do I do on weekdays? I read the books recommended by my professors so that I can follow the class. But even in this area, I have the freedom to choose what I want to read; the professors aren’t strict about reading lists as well.

In many ways, it is an admirable system. Each student is responsible for his own performance—whether he comes to participate in class, reads appropriate books, and strives hard to write a good paper and perform well during the examination. In effect, the student is also able to formulate his own ideas based on what he learns from various sources. If he’s lazy, then he won’t learn anything.

Now, I have become more accustomed to being less pressured and frazzled about school. If I don’t do my readings, then I only have myself to blame for not performing well in class. It is also up to me to digest all these concepts and ideas, and decide what I think and feel about them.

And the papers? Well, we’ll see how I fare come examination week.

Photo by David Travis on Unsplash

Manic Mornings

Manic Mornings

By Romelda C. Ascutia

Come to my house on a weekday morning, and you’d think it has been the site of a police raid. You know the aftermath of such an intrusion: The place is all topsy-turvy after investigators have combed it inch by inch in search of contraband. That’s how our house greets me when I come down from the bedroom in the mornings. But the culprits are not the search authorities; it’s my two boys.

My children, a college freshman and a high school sophomore, have convinced me that they are old enough to take care of themselves and don’t need my help to prepare them for school in the morning. This is not an act of total altruism on their part, mind you. Truth is, the boys don’t want me hovering over them because I drive them nuts. I nag them to hurry up, to take a bath already, to brush their teeth properly. I pester them with questions. Why didn’t you tell me you have a button missing from your polo? Why don’t you ever bring an umbrella (or at least a jacket) when it’s raining? Why won’t you get a haircut? Why do you ignore the fruits I place on the table?

Because our mornings have become a strain on both sides, we have agreed that I will get all the boys’ needs ready the night before—the hot water in the jug, the cereals and milk in the jars, the bread for toasting snug in the bread box, uniforms hanging neatly in the cabinets—and they will do the rest. The next morning, my duty is to simply call out to the boys when the alarm sounds off, and I go back to sleep when I hear them stomping downstairs.

This arrangement has worked well for all of us so far. I believe this setup teaches the boys to be more independent and self-reliant. If I’m around, they treat me as a convenient lost-and-found center: Ma, did you see my ID/belt/notebook/toothbrush/watch? Can you please go upstairs and get my P.E. shirt? I’m already in the bathroom so could you throw me my towel?

As for me, as a night person, I am not at my best at dawn. I become more energetic as the hours pass and get my second wind late in the night, when everyone is asleep. That’s when I whirl about straightening things, sweeping the floor, cleaning the bathroom, folding the laundry—all those things other moms normally do in the first light of day. Before I head upstairs, I survey my handiwork with a little smile, knowing that everything is in its proper place.

So there’s been a wonderful truce in my household ever since we hit on this morning deal. But I am still far from completely content. After they leave I survey the “damage” my independent young adults have inflicted: beds unmade, dirty clothes and wet towels on the floor, cabinets hanging open with folded clothes in disarray, used plates on the dining table, toothbrushes by the sink, pools of water near the bathroom door for me to slip on. Books and notebooks that are not scheduled for use that day sit in chairs. Receipts, tissue paper, and other whatnots lie on the floor, having missed the trash can.

And so the next hour or so is used to clear up the trail of mess my boys have left behind. But like any hopeful mom I truly believe that with time—and more nagging on my part—my mischievous raiders will become better behaved. Until then, the morning raids will continue.

Featured Photo from Mrs H’s Favorite Things

Coming Home to a Different School

Coming Home to a Different School

By Julie Javellana-Santos

I just attended the alumni homecoming of my high school. It’s been almost 31 years since I left that school. And my classmates and I were nostalgic about how the school looked different, but was somehow still the same.

The chairs in the school auditorium were still the same steel folding chairs we sat on during our graduation, albeit repainted several times over. The drinking fountain where we would satisfy our thirst with lukewarm water on hot days was still there, down to the yellowing tiles and antiquated taps. No mineral water or filtered water for us then—just plain old ‘Nawasa (National Waterworks and Sewerage Authority) juice’ as we called it.

The girls I grew up with were different, though. Many had put on a pound here and there. On the contrary, others had lost weight and were positively scrawny. Still others proudly sported brand new nose jobs.

Through the years, there would be times when I’d bump into someone who said, “I know your face, I just can’t remember your name. But it’s here somewhere.” I guess the popularity of caesarian births and general anesthesia was as much to blame for this forgetfulness as simple old age.

Listening to my classmates criticize the program, though, I guess not much had changed. Many times before, we would gather for a program in that very same auditorium, on those very same chairs, and nitpick over the order of the day. Closing my eyes, I could imagine those same girls in blue and white uniforms, wearing standard black shoes and bored expressions. The voices around me were the same voices back in high school. The criticisms were the same: the program was boring, her skirt was too short, the food not good …

And yet, everything was different.

The classrooms across the yard are now of a different color. Where once a single row of classrooms stood, there’s now a four-storey building. Fences were all around—not just wooden, decorative ones but bars, preventing the wayward child from leaving the premises and strangers from entering the grounds.

Most of all, the girls were no longer young students, but familiar faces sporting monumental eyebags, a couple of pounds, and prominent noses.

Everything had changed, but it seemed to be for the better. The classrooms now had LCD projectors, the school grotto was more orderly and freshly landscaped, the school piano had been refurbished, the auditorium’s comfort rooms had been renovated… all courtesy of the school’s generous alumni. Hopefully, the improvements would not end this year. Hopefully, there would be more next year.

The school may have changed a lot since I was there, but what hasn’t changed was how studying in those rooms helped me become the person that I am. And that is a gift that I would always treasure.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

School? At Three Years Old?

School? At Three Years Old?

By Bubbles Salvador

My son is barely two and people have been asking me, “Where are you sending Luis to school next year?”

I remember very little about my preschool years but I do know that I was only in a kindergarten class before I went to first grade. I didn’t even attend nursery class like most of my classmates did. Although I didn’t graduate a cum laude from college, I think I’m okay.

So you understand the baffled look on my face when people would ask me that question. “But he’ll only be three!” I’d say. And then sometimes I would get these mortified looks that seem to say, “Que horror! You mean you’re not sending your son to playschool?”

I know of moms who sent their kids to school at two years old, and the kids are turning out to be brilliant. On the other hand, a guy I know only went to preparatory class before first grade, and he placed tenth in the medical board exams after college. I think the cliché “case to case basis” applies here.

So what will it be for Luis? The truth is, I don’t know. Yet. It seems horrible for a parent not to have any plans for her child’s education. But the question of whether we are sending him to playschool at three years old is something my husband and I are still mulling over.

There’s this mom I know who started home schooling her son when he was three, before she sent him to a regular preschool. I have to say that this is a tempting, not to mention a very inexpensive, option. I heard that the tuition fee in playschools could run up to a hundred thousand per year.

Oh, but lucky for us, we have one more year. How about we wait and see?

Photo by BBC Creative on Unsplash