Education for life and beyond
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Schools are obviously a controlled environment. They are like greenhouses for the students. They have to be like that, since the students, like young, tender saplings, need a more favorable atmosphere for them to grow to maturity before facing the world on their own.
In schools, the students are given a kind of pure nourishment of knowledge and other values to prepare them for the challenges in life. They need to be protected somehow from the very fluid of confusing realities of life in the meantime so they can develop the appropriate attitude and skills to be able to sort things out properly.
One of the concerns that we, the elders, should all bear in mind is that the students should be formed in such a way that they can be weaned at the proper time and start to face the realities of life on their own, even if everyone of us always needs the help of everybody else and our education never ends.
We need to see to it that they become fit and able to live meaningfully in the world. What should be avoided is to spoil them in the school environment such that they could only “survive” in controlled conditions and would be at a loss when they step out of school.
In other words, the students should come out knowing more or less what their proper place and role are in society, so they can work in solidarity with others for the attainment of the common good.
This will involve acquiring things that are both basic and general, applicable to all, on the one hand, and specific, attuned to the individual’s qualities and capabilities, on the other.
And so the basic questions about man, like who and what he is, where he comes from, to where he is supposed to go, etc., should be made clear to them. The various implications of those questions, both in their theoretical and practical aspects as they impact on the different areas and levels of human life, should be taken up.
Along with this concern should be the effort to know each student personally, so his or her unique and peculiar qualities can be known and given due consideration in planning for each individual’s formation.
In this regard, it is important that each student gets to have a mentor to guide him personally in an atmosphere of friendship and confidence. It’s where students feel a bit alienated in some areas that anomalies can arise—like misconceptions of basic values that can lead to bad practices, habits and vices later on.
The formation in the school should try to cover not only the academic aspect, but also and more importantly, the human and spiritual aspects—like the development of basic virtues like humility, order, sincerity, etc., as well as, interpersonal and social skills, etc.
The students should know how to cultivate their spiritual life, their relationship with God which ought to undergird their relationship with others. In the first place, they need to be aware between what is spiritual and what is material, what is eternal and what is temporal, etc., and the many implications these distinctions generate.
Thus, they need to learn how to pray and grow in their spiritual life through the study of the right doctrine, recourse of the sacraments, development of virtues and the art of ascetical struggle, so indispensable in our life marked by weakness, temptations, and sin itself.
They have to be taught how to deal with all kinds of situations and circumstances, favorable or not, advantageous or not. They have to learn how to develop convictions based on eternal truths as well as skills in flexibility to dynamic temporal factors and immunity to unavoidable negative elements.
These are tough things to achieve, but as long as they are pursued as early as when both teachers and mentors on the one hand, and students on the other are able to undertake and receive such efforts, then we can expect good results.
There’s obviously a need on the part of the school officials to monitor the development of the students, especially in the individual and personal level. Obviously the cooperation of parents is a must here. They, after all, are the primary teachers of their children, though they can delegate much of the dirty work to the schools.
Thus, the healthy linkage between parents and schools is vital here. That connection has to be nourished in a continuing way.