Here is a false question: Would you rather be a successful architect or a successful human being? Instead of choosing one or the other, most thoughtful people would say: if I were an architect, I would like to be a successful architect, but also a successful human being.
As a human being, I choose a profession. For example, as a human being, I choose to be a architect. Being an architect does not vitiate my being human, but manifests it, though not fully. Being a successful human and being a successful professional complement each other.
Unfortunately, however, sometimes one’s profession militates against one’s humanity. One is so driven by the demands of professional engagement and professional success, that all of one’s time and all of one’s energies are dedicated to the profession. Normally, this is not done with ill will. It is in fact often done with the approval and encouragement of the professional community, clapping enthusiastically for a colleague reaching for the heights of excellence and the fullness of professional reward. Often, it is even done with the encouragement of one’s spouse and family, grateful that one is not lazy, but dedicated and industrious, hopeful for nice things in life as its reward.
But in this case, the demanding profession soon becomes tyrannical. It demands total obeisance and unquestioning loyalty, and denies time and attention to one’s personal needs, as well as to the needs of those for whom one is responsible. These can be relatives, members of one’s family, a sister, mother, child or wife. The love for one’s wife cools, even though the goods are delivered, and there is precious little time for interaction with the kids. There is much less time for talking with one’s kids, for spending time with them in play, for being sensitive to their needs. There is even less time for caring about those who do not matter to me in my profession: the homeless, the persons with disability, the uneducated. Instead of going to chuch to worship God, one goes to office to worship professional success and its rewards. This is what then determines “right” and “wrong” for me, not the inner imperatives of humanity, but the compulsions of getting ahead. So compelled, what it untrue, wrong and corrupt becomes true, right, and necessary. One’s profession succeeds, but one’s humanity fails.
Of course, as we consider some of the pitfalls of professional excess, we are also appalled at the self-styled humanists who think their humanity served in dreaming of the stars, gazing at their navels, and retiring before they have reached 40 by leaching on others who work.
The Philippine educational system cannot just be concerned about professional development, as important as this may be, and must draw forth from human beings responsible humanity. Therefore, happily, the proposed Revised Gneral Education Curriculum states: “General Education (GE) on the tertiary level addresses the development of the human being.” Clearly, there is no way the development of the whole human being can actually be achieved in but 28 units of any academic discipline. The Program presumes the humanistic inputs of the Basic Education Curriculum. Here, outside of imparting basic skills in Filipino, English, Science and Mathematics, Basic Education through Makabayan “…lays the most stress on the development of social awareness, empathy, and a firm commitment to the common good” (Roco, 2002 Basic Ed Curriculum, Exec Sum, 12). It is a process that continues through the elementary, high school, and, as a result of this reform, Career Academy (senior high school) levels.
From the viewpoint of the proposed Revised General Education Curriculmm (RGEC), what should be the outcomes of General Edcuation on the tertiary level? Allow me to quote the document verbatim:
“…Some of the outcomes expected of students finishing GE are: an appreciation of the human condition, the ability to personally interpret human experience, the ability to view the contemporary world from both Philippine and Global perspectives, the ability to reflectively and critically discern right and wrong in today’s world (beyond compliance to rules, laws, and expectations in traditional culture), the ability to tackle problems methodically and scientifically, the ability to appreciate and contribute to artistic beauty, and the ability to contribute personaly and meaningfully to the development of the Philippines” (RGEC, 2).
As an outcome of college education in the Philippines, one must not only understand one’s profession, but understand, accept, and commit oneself to one’s humanity and its imperatives in the Philippines and in the global world. These imperatives go beyond one’s profession, insist on professional engagement as a means to humanity and not vice versa, and compel engagement for the common good.