“Sus, Character Education? Basic.”
“Pakabuot ka lang gamay, hatagan ta kaw na 90. Character Education lang na.”
Character education is taught hand in hand with Science, English, and Mathematics in the K-12 curriculum; however, the high marks given to the students in this subject do not reflect what they have learned. It is evident with the quotes above that humility is such a hard value to achieve.
Knowledge without a soul is dead. Despite the emphasis given to the core subjects in the K-12 curriculum, Character Education remains as an imperative subject as it helps every student develop their pro-social skills, which is vital to making decisions in their lives. One can argue that it is one of the easiest subjects to pass as it provides repetitive contents and the assessments for it are often answered by common sense, however one cannot deny that taking a look at the present situation, it is easily agreeable that we have failed in achieving its final goal. It took one man to solve a Millennium Prize Problem, and a blind poet to give birth to one of the greatest epics ever told, but 193 countries coming together could not give an answer to humanity’s single most important question, “How do we live together in peace?” We have near infinite resources of knowledge but we seemed to have forgotten where we have placed our spirit.
Character education has taught us to respect one another but needless to say that it is evident that we have failed in this aspect miserably. It is the responsibility of our schools to provide a wholesome and conducive environment for its students and be a catalyst of learning however, five years after the implementation of the Anti-Bullying Act, there are still students who are bullied by their classmates and teachers alike. In a statistics disclosed by Rep. Gerald Anthony Gullas Jr, bullying cases rose by 21% on the year 2014 (6,363), just a year after the rigid campaign of its implementation. Furthermore, cyberbullying only increased in the later years as social medial became available to the public without additional bandwidth charges that led to the destruction of self-esteem and the discouraging of individual opinions. In this aspect, if we are to look back to our lessons in elementary on GMRC, would it still be safe to say that we have gone a long way from being egocentric children?
On the other hand, Character Education has emphasized the importance of family in developing a child as it directly affects the formation of values; however, families are breaking apart and forming gaps instead of bridges. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, one of five marriages is failing. This is further supported by the data in 2012 where 10,528 annulments were filed. Amidst these weddings that did not survive, are the children that are left in the aftermath who would then form twisted values as trust vs. mistrust issues begin to form. Morty Smith said that parents are just kids having kids. However, these kids have grown and have been taught enough at school through character education ceaselessly. If we are to base the success of our education in values formation through these data, will it even be sufficient to say that we have passed as a family-oriented nation?
Furthermore, through character education, we have planted seeds within the minds of the children that we hoped to grow into self-esteem, self-worth, and self-reliance, but a short glance of social media would show that the children of today are depressed, drained, and fragile. One problem breeds another and families falling apart are just one of these many factors that greatly affect the mental and emotional health of these children. In a statistics by the World Health Organization on 2017, suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds. But looking at the chain of events, if only we have learned to respect individuality, or became better influences to our neighbors, we could have done better. Sad to say, and as sensitive as this topic may be, our characters were supposed to have been cultivated at a young age but surviving plagues and pests and storms brought by unfortunate circumstances prevent that.
Finally, Character Education has also taught us to be the wavers of our flags – that other nations may stop in response to our national theme the way we do to them but as sad as it may seem, our flag is blood stained, tattered, and shamed. We are a country that is divided, and the political debates on human rights shown on the media, and amplified to the world do not help in fixing our image as a country. In a tally by PDEA, there have already been 4,075 casualties in the war on drugs spearheaded by our president. Moreover, the posts that we see on social media about degrading our country do not help as well. Given the fact that we are already one economically crippled nation, perhaps we should have looked back into our lessons in high school about being sensitive to one another’s beliefs that may result in a better country, but instead we chose to smear our heritage.
As a result, we as a nation could not fight as one. Our country has faced multiple threats recently from terrorist groups such as the ISIS in Marawi. Yes, we did come together in the time of need, however, in the aftermath; we came back to squabbling amongst ourselves again. In the middle of it, we have a piece of our land being claimed by a foreign nation, and we could not agree on a solution as we chose to fight amongst ourselves instead of fighting for each other. If character education has taught us one single thing, it is that we should live together in peace, but we did not.
If we are going to continue ignoring the teachings of our Character Education teachers, and forget the answers that we have written on the sheets when we have decided to listen to our conscience instead of our egos in the promise of good grades, perhaps we will continue to fail the greatest test that has been given to us in our lives. Everything that we have learned about respect, kindness, our family, patriotism, and honesty will never have meaning. In the end, we have learned nothing despite passing everything in our student days. By the end of the day, the tests we have taken at school will pass, but we will continue on learning about being human, and we will be tested, and our brains will never be enough to pass it should we choose to fail.
By: Lorraine Mamaril, WVSU-COEBSEd English