Critical thinking can save the Philippines

University of the Philippines (UP) Professor Gerry Lanuza recently caused an uproar on social media when he was accused of attacking UP summa cum laude biology graduate Tiffany Uy on his Facebook post as being merely a “puppy of her parents” after she was lauded for achieving the highest weighted grade average obtained in the school’s history since World II with her score 1.004.

UP Professor Gerry Lanuza is upset over Filipinos' obsession with grades.
UP Professor Gerry Lanuza is upset over Filipinos’ obsession with grades.
After receiving his share of bashings from Netizens who thought he was suffering from a bad case of tall poppy syndrome, Lanuza has since clarified in a full article that his short Facebook post was not intended to put down or mock Uy’s achievements but rather, to raise what he thought was a concern – Philippine society’s obsession with grades and credentials.

While the timing of Lanuza’s Facebook post was quite suspect (he didn’t state the “real” intention of his post immediately after Uy’s defenders started posting their outrage) and a hint of arrogance can also be detected in his tone (he was unapologetic for causing useless anxiety – stating “it is not his problem”), we can’t ignore the fact that he has a point about the way some parents are pushing their kids, sometimes over the edge, just to get the perfect score or grade at school. To be fair, it’s not just a phenomenon unique to Filipinos. Asian parents in general have been known to push their kids too hard just to excel at school.

The problem is, it seems despite the number of students who excel with their grades in Philippine schools, we have yet to find a Filipino student who can inspire innovation or defy conventional wisdom in Philippine society. As I have pointed out in my previous articles in the past, despite the many brilliant students produced each year by Philippine universities, the country has yet to produce someone who can inspire “greatness”.

Where can we find the great Filipino inventor? Where is our own Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg? Where is the next Jose Rizal who is going to wake the majority of Filipinos from their long stupor? They are not in the Philippines because the society does not encourage individuals to stand out from the crowd and be unique. Everyone has to put their head down lest they get ostracized for being too “different” or in the local vernacular “walang pakisama”.

UP professor Lanuza forgot to mention that Philippine society also discourages individuals from expressing their dissenting opinion. I know this because I get accused of being a “paid hack” for criticizing Filipino politicians. It would be hard to find a teacher or professor who doesn’t limit freedom of expression in the class. As a matter of fact, students are taught to show deference to older people or people who are in authority and that can include the teachers or professors. Young kids are discouraged from questioning authority. This is precisely the reason why timid behavior is especially prevalent in Philippine society. This is also the reason why a lot of Filipinos are too sensitive to criticism and people who have differing opinions.

The Philippines' premiere state university may be failing to produce innovative thinkers.
The Philippines’ premiere state university may be failing to produce innovative thinkers.
Filipinos’ obsession with grades and credentials is an issue that I have encountered as a political blogger so many times while engaging in discussions with people who cannot take my opinion seriously because they are what I call “credentialists” – people who tend to focus more on the person and not what the person is saying.

Lanuza prides himself in how he encourages his students to “protest, dissent and criticize” Philippine society. He wants the students to ask the hard questions. However, as his profile on social media seems to reveal, he has his own set of beliefs that have been known to produce sheep behavior. Lanuza is a proud communist. That’s quite ironic considering he is desperately trying to encourage his students to break out of the mold and to be different. This contradiction was evident in what he wrote, “Why do our schools foster fierce competition? Why define our schools as jungles rather than as crucibles for creating cooperation and collective solidarity?” He should realize that competition is part of the process of producing innovative and unique individuals. Without it, individuals will lack the motivation to strive harder to succeed.

Lanuza’s concern about parents dictating what course their children should take in university is valid, indeed. There must be hundreds of parents who forced their children to take up nursing just because it is in “demand”. At least it used to be. The parents should realize that even if their kids pass the marks or get good grades, if their kids are not passionate about their jobs, they will not be good employees and will not excel in their work. Worse, they will be unhappy with their lives.

My conclusion is, Lanuza and many others like him do not really understand that in the Philippines, students are told what to think and not how to think. He should not be surprised that the use of critical thinking is not so common in the country. Unfortunately, the issue he raised flew over most people’s head because of his approach – it was too authoritative. I do hope he will welcome this criticism.

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Post Author: Ilda

In life, things are not always what they seem.

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35 Comments on "Critical thinking can save the Philippines"

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Ebola Ray
Guest
Its too bad that outside of the ‘Republica de Pilipinas’ the rest of the world scoffs at and does not recognize the ‘Degree’s’ and ‘Licensing’ of Philippine Schools/Universities. A Business Management degree in the Philippine school system (CDO’s ‘Xavier University’ for example) requires the same ‘advanced Trigonometry’ and ‘advanced Calculus in the business world’ classes/credits/hours as a degree at ‘Georgetown University’ in the USA.(I KNOW coz I looked !), both schools in the top 20 Academic Institutions in their respective countries and yet the degree from Xavier will not get a Filipino hired in the USA for a job pertaining… Read more »
CJ
Guest

Outside the Philippines, this girl will undoubtedly make 100,000P+ with no problem. Not so sure if she stays here.

JustineD
Guest

Just wanted to share a perspective here.

A professional board of one country, say medical board, engineering board, or law, cannot just hire a professional from a different country. Because local exposure is crucial to be able to practice in these professions. Its not so much a credentialing issue.

Same with MBAs. It’s not wise to simply hire someone as CEO while still green in the business locale, no matter what credentials one presents.

That’s all.

Ebola Ray
Guest
Green or not, the point is the point. Not the not-even-mentioned experience. An education in an area of expertise (nursing, for example, of human beings)does not change across imaginary lines on a map……that is the point of the comment(along with some other ones). Do I have to spell out everything? it has little or nothing to do with ‘locale’,OMG ! Example: the number of bones in a human body doesn’t change when a nurse in one country goes across another countries border. The reason duh Philippines does not license foreign Dr.s in the Philippines is because they do not want… Read more »
marius
Guest

You’re right about the MBAs, but frankly MBAs aren’t equipped to manage anything, anywhere.So had example.

Filipino doctors are allowed to practice anywhere in the world.

Do Filipinos know something those silly foreigners don’t? Or could it be that Filipinos don’t want to be exposed to foreign competition because they will be forced to up their game?

077Hayden0077744Toro
Guest
This is the Failing of the Filipino mindset. We are too obssesed with High Grades. Knowledge coming mostly, from textbooks. No innovative thinking. No original ideas. No inventing/development of new things/methods that would benefit your fellowmen, community and mankind, as a whole. This is the reason; we cannot, or will never produce a: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Thomas Edison, Nicolai Tesla, etc…besides the brains in our country already migrated to foreign countries. Parents take hold of the thinking of their children. Children are not allowed to think/decide for themselves. It stultifies free and original thinking. Prof. Lanuza has some points… Read more »
andrew
Guest

agreed. i remember Sir Ken Robinson’s talk at TED. schools kill creativity. however, he argued that though education is important (of course), teachers should spark curiosity in each children. teach them to be creative and practice critical thinking.

Like me, i learn more when i’m curious about things. then i google it. hence, i get educated the way i like it. if you force information on my head, i will not learn. lol!

Angelica Hopes
Guest
Critical thinking, creative thinking and progressive actions matched with strong values can save our country. Sir Lanuza’s observation on the Filipinos’ obsession on grades is true. Also from my own personal experience, I did hate the fierce competition in academics in my younger years. Instead of creating teamwork and more on creativity, academic competition harboured walls not only in school but many have not outgrown it as they carried it in their adult life. In Switzerland (CH), I like how my daughters grew up without the jungle of competition in the class because they were taught to be curious, to… Read more »
andrew
Guest

agreed. a good friend of mine was a college drop out (UP College of Music) and left the house to pursue business. now he has 2 condominiums and 2 vehicles.

a living example that hard work and passion is the key to success. though he still plays drums. we’ll be jamming anytime soon.

Chris
Guest

And luck of course. You can be the most hard working sob in the world, but if no opportunity arises or you don’t have the connections, you’ll never get out of the grind.

marius
Guest

Chris: no, not really. There is an American quote (whose origin nobody knows):

“I am a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more of it I seem to have”.

It’s true that hard work and diligence is usually punished in the Philippines, rather than rewarded. That’s because there are far too many people who hate success: it reminds them of their own failure, and perhaps they’re jealous of the other’s “luck”.

ChinoF
Member

The Rat Race, as it’s called. Parents push their children over the edge to have something to boast. It’s the Wiwi Height contest again. “Look at my son’s grades, ang galing-galing, no?” I remember Kate Natividad has this article, Should parents be bragging about their kids’ academic achievements on Facebook? I said there that parents should never be narcissistic, and don’t have a right to use their children for selfish purposes.

d_forsaken
Guest
Forget the Failippines and Failipinos. They exist and put there to give you the idea you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. Failippines and Failipinos have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land, they own and control the corporations that’ve long since bought and paid for, the Senate, the Congress, the politician’s houses, the city halls, they got the judges in their back pocket, and they own all the big media companies so they control just about all of the news and the information you get to hear. They got… Read more »
Chris
Guest

In fact, a well-informed and thinking population could spell doom to their assets and potentially their lives. Remember how the French Revolution came about. It wasn’t from the dirty and dumb poor, but rather the educated and disgruntled bourgeoisie.

marius
Guest

Absolutely. I’ve seen how the education system works in the Philippines, and it’s quite obviously set up to make people stupid. Filipino kids probably start off quite intelligent. And then they go to school …

mrs s rttn
Guest

Stupid Thinking! Try to reconcile then why do many people from foreign countries have to bother themselves, have to trouble themselves, to travel a few or more hundred miles to this country to study, just to be stupid? As always you will think that you’re still correct and not capable of being wrong! Foreign critical thinking or just plain stupid rubbish arrogant thinking?!

WR
Guest

Pinoy pride strikes again, according to mrs s rttn, since foreigners come to visit here anyway whether its for tourism, education or as imports for some pinoy sports team, that means pinoys are suddenly the “greatest.” As if comparing themselves to great educational institutions like Harvard or Oxford; “see foreigners come to learn from us pinoys.” Yet another example of pinoys rationalizing mediocrity, feeling arrogant, and still wallowing in dysfunctional thinking.

It seems pinoys will say anything just to ease their own guilt.

marius
Guest
Right, WR 🙂 There we go with the Pinoy Pride again. Certainly there are foreigners studying in the Philippines: people from other third-world countries, where a low price is more important than quality of education. I’m absolutely sure they all are taught to react this way in school. Your education is the best in the world! Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise! Look, Mrs S. If your education system was so great, your country wouldn’t be classed as a failing state, would it? There’s nothing wrong with recognising this simple fact. Once you do, you can fix it. If you… Read more »
marius
Guest

Oh … and here’s another reason they go to the Philippines:

Indian student Mandeep Kaur, who can speak Filipino fluently, said that the exams given in schools here are easier than in India.

“Ang exam sa India, puro essay. Dito, multiple choice (Exams in India are in essay form, while exams here are multiple choice),” she said.

More from: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/223953/news/nation/some-foreign-students-decide-to-make-phl-their-home

mrs s rttn
Guest

@marius, @WR
Among other reasons why Indian student Mandeep Kaur decided to study here is that she feels much safer here than there with your Indian compatriots!

Marius’ India wouldn’t be “The most dangerous country in the world to be a girl” for nothing!

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/9054429/India-most-dangerous-place-in-world-to-be-born-a-girl.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKIgL09cJrA

See how their education and the Indian collective goes into action as they try to rape a CNN reporter on a Live TV broadcast:

WR
Guest

But of course. Pinoys always need to point out that something or someone else is as bad or worse than them at something everytime they’re targets of criticism. It’s their instinctive excuse for not needing to do anything about their faults.

marius
Guest

Ah yes. Well done, Mrs S. You’ve found a country that’s worse than the Philippines. You can therefore sit back and relax. All is well.

Isn’t that a relief?

Nothing needs to be done because you’re not the ABSOLUTE worst on the planet (yet). Are you taught that in school, too?

not sure
Guest

@ mrs s rttn

that is a complete BS:

– the video is spoken in Indian for the most part and cannot be understood what the man is saying

– its actually worse for a Indian man to live in India than a woman. India already passed feminist laws; the likes which allow false accusation by women(rape!) to men without fear of legal consequences. Regular Indian men are gynocentric same as regular men here or anywhere influenced by western culture.

This is proof : gynocentric savage Indians

comment image

story: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2981515/Justice-Indian-style-Angry-mob-breaks-prison-kidnaps-man-accused-raping-student-stripping-naked-dragging-four-miles-beating-death-street.html

Alex
Guest

hahahaha..yes marius..go ahead..

Alex
Guest

marius says:
July 5, 2015 at 11:44 am
Filipino kids probably start off quite intelligent. And then they go to school …

hahahahaha..yes marius..go ahead..

Alex
Guest

right-o d_forsaken.

Alex
Guest

d_forsaken says:
July 4, 2015 at 4:42 pm
But I’ll tell you what they don’t want. They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them.

right-o d_forsaken.

Chris
Guest

Playing devil’s advocate here, but to me based on his beliefs and profile, he strikes as nothing more than a contrarian. Being a communist yet encouraging individualism is kinda contradictory don’t you think? Then again, he might be basing it more on the economical aspect of it, rather than the political which is more totalitarianism in practice.

Chris
Guest

“it was too authoritative.”

Hit the nail in the head. One of the many bewildering contradictions Filipinos suffer from is their willingness to choose which situation and person to play servant to. In public, they’ll take something like this with “grace” but online all bets are off.

Virtual Vigilante
Guest
“Where can we find the great Filipino inventor? . . . Where is the next Jose Rizal who is going to wake the majority of Filipinos from their long stupor? They are not in the Philippines . . .” We do have an abundance of sari-sari stores–from the inner slums of Manila to the boondocks of Tawi-Tawi. We have seized to aspire for greatness. Just as a teacher would settle to be a chambermaid in a cruise ship or a doctor would settle to be a nurse in the United States. It is as if our dreams have been reduced… Read more »
andrew
Guest

“Remember, remember, the fifth of november . . ”
nice avatar you got there. i haven’t finished watching it though i have it in my notebook. XD

Alex
Guest
mrs s rttn says: July 5, 2015 at 3:43 pm Stupid Thinking! Try to reconcile then why do many people from foreign countries have to bother themselves, have to trouble themselves, to travel a few or more hundred miles to this country to study, just to be stupid? As always you will think that you’re still correct and not capable of being wrong! Foreign critical thinking or just plain stupid rubbish arrogant thinking?! I’ve always believed that some foreigners traveling to the Philippines have some sort of concealed interest in something..hahahaha..because some Filipinos are sooo naive and tooo hospitable and… Read more »
jr
Guest

hahahaha! i’m having a great time laughing at this article! someone gets straight 1’s in hard sciences like math, biology and statistics. she’s bashed. and people here charge this episode to society’s failure to consider dissenting opinion! wahahahaha!

Vins
Guest

The closest person the Philippines had to compare with Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg is Diosdado Banatao but he made his fortune in Silicon Valley California USA. I hope that his foundation will produce innovators and game changers that we badly needed,

klara
Guest

They’ve got to get rid of multiple choice tests and downsize the number of students in a class. Then of course, employ exceptional teachers who who refuse to just feed information . Teachers who can make students learn for themselves. What credentials and grades measure at this point is COMPLIANCE. And we wonder why the innovators were dropouts.