Of Factories and Farms
Growing up, we are asked the question “why are you in school?” by grown-ups and the answer was always simple , “to learn”. Usually, that was the end of the discussion, and we would be off to whatever it was that amused us at the time. Few years on, when we are asked or in some cases, ask ourselves the same question, the general correct answer is quite different “To graduate, get a good job, and be successful”.
More often than not whatever notions of dreams, aspiration and ambition are deemed optional. To put it practically then, we are here in this university to graduate. The concept of higher learning then, with all its lofty scholarly ideals has been relegated to accessory, The Education System itself has become a factory. Looking back though, hasn’t it always been? In a case presented by Sir Ken Robinson about education paradigms, our current system of education (both public and private) “was designed, conceived and structured for a different age, the intellectual culture of the enlightenment and the economic circumstances of the industrial revolution”.
It does not seem all that different in the Filipino context, especially considering the latter statement. A closer look into our educational system and we see it, modeled after the image and interests of industrialismandevenglobalization. We are arranged and put through the motions classified and defined by our date of manufacture, our date of birth.
Globalization factors into this as well. It was not too long ago that our parents were pushing us to be (insert “uso” course here) that we find better lives and jobs (usually abroad). This attitude is still prevalent now, as department populations are more than skewed. Simply put, the factory now has a global demand bias to satisfy.
Now, more than ever it has been increasingly about conformity. The dysfunctions of this mode of thinking are starting to become evident. Going past the brain drain resulting from Filipino Diaspora, our nation has been overrepresented in some fields of study and innovation and underrepresented in others.
Perhaps we should think beyond the factory walls and the linearity ingrained by the assembly line mentality. The old ideals are no longer enough to suit the situation, how can we be truly prepared for the economic situation post graduation if we cannot even predict what the economy will look like at the end of next week? The effects are clear, our factory is running on overdrive on old machinery, as expected from such; there is a lot of waste being belched out. The rising drop out rates in the country is proof of this.
Such as it is, we must disenthrall ourselves from this factory concept, change the paradigm. Why not a farm instead of a factory? Why not an educational system based on the principles of agriculture rather than industrialization? I do not mean a literal shift to change the focus on agrarianism but a change on the ideological level. Given the situation we can no longer predict and control and even enforce ability, talent, innovation and creativity but merely provide an environment for these to flourish. More and more we are divorced from our talents and our passions, we as a society have forgotten that development relies on a diversity of talents, not a singular concept of ability.
This paradigm shift may not happen next year or even in the next decade; slowly but surely its happening, educators the world over are looking in to providing a better model for education, an alternative to the established fast food mentality.
The change may begin here, in the hallowed halls of learning. We’re getting our college degrees in the hopes of a brighter future, and a chance to change it for the better. Above all that, the old answer still rings true, We are here to learn.