Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sun Oct 21 16:12:06 UTC 2007

* Part 4. Last of series* *Proem*

The book "Endangered Minds" by Jane M. Healy provides many discussions and
explanations regarding the perceived learning deficiencies of schoolchildren
today. What I like about the book is that it jibes with my ideas on
educational theory.

In page 124 she says, "once a child has one type of grammatical speech under
her scalp, the brain is primed to master others more easily at any time
during the life span.

Teachers of foreign languages should look warily at children with inadequate
mastery of their mother language, whatever they may be."

The above statement fits our situation. Our mother language is Sugboanon
Bisaya and we study English as a second language and Filipino as a third
language. If the child did not master her grammar in Bisaya, then she would
have difficulty in English and Filipino.

What our elitist schools are doing is to alter the situation. They try to
make English as the first language and make Bisaya and Filipino as the
second and third languages.

The result would be an emotionally unstable person because the emotional
aspect of a person is closely related to the concepts of the mother

*Role of Language to Convince*

There are two approaches in the role of language to convince others - appeal
to the intellect and appeal to the emotion. Since Filipinos are educated
using the English language, it is the language fitted to appeal to the

Since the mother language is closely related to the emotional aspect of man,
it is the language fitted for use in the appeal to the emotion. This is the
reason why our politicians use the mother language in their political
campaigns. They always appeal to the emotion for the coveted vote.

Why is Sugboanon Bisaya not taught in our school system? The answer is that
the Americans knew that the appeal to the emotion could easily bring out a
revolt. They even prohibited the public display of the Filipino flag until
1917. When it was allowed it was to be displayed with the American flag and
a little bit lower than the American flag.

The practice of not allowing native languages to be taught was an American
colonial policy. The Americans were afraid of the emotional appeal of one's
native language.

The question is, why do we still continue the colonial policy of not
teaching our native languages? The answer is, we are still in the grip of
our colonial mentality. The Philippines is supposed to be independent but
still we could not imagine ourselves to be independent because we are in the
grip of a colonial language policy. To develop nationalism and love of
country, we should teach in school the mother language of the student.

*Wrong use of pictures*

When I read the book "Endangered Minds" I was particularly struck by its
statement regarding the use of pictures when teaching. The book says that
the picture should be used to assist or augment learning and not as a tool
for learning.

The mental pattern conveyed by the spoken and written word is different from
the mental pattern conveyed by the picture or visual image. The spoken and
written word should be first presented and its meaning analyzed. To
reinforce the mental process of the pupil, the picture is then presented.
This way, the pupil will learn how to grasp the concept of abstract words
that could not be put into pictures such as love, friendship, conscience,

It is wrong to present first the picture or cartoons and later on explain
what they mean. The picture can elicit different meanings to the mind of the
pupil and mostly it is of the peripheral kind. It will tend to make the
pupil inattentive because he will insist on his interpretation if it would
not jibe with the interpretation intended by the teacher. Do you still
wonder why most our student does not seem to pay attention in class? If so,
then try to find out if there is an overuse of pictures in the lessons.

This is the reason why in the demonstration class I conducted at Cordova,
Cebu, I first discuss the concept and later on made the pupils verify by the
use of the visual aid. All the observers were surprised why the pupils could
understand "pure" Bisayan words that the teachers themselves did not
understand. The procedure was well adapted to the mental pattern of the
mother language of the pupils.

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