Saturday, September 15, 2012

From the head to the heart to the gut

In the private sector they recognize that knowledge must be translated into the requisite attitude, skills and habit – thus the acronym KASH that training and development professionals adhere to. While pundits, in the US, are called “talking heads” – i.e., they talk a good game but what about play a good game?

A friend, educated abroad with multiple degrees, explains why UP ranks relatively lower against the rest of the world: “They meet the required population of PhDs but in this country we have yet to develop a symbiotic relationship between the academe and industry.” It reminded the writer of a US consultancy (of mostly PhDs); and on a trip to Asia they asked him if he’d mind spending a session with them. “We have updated our research and are inviting practitioners to critique it and given our US orientation, we need more insights into the world.” And a professor, known in business schools including the Philippines, was about to publish the book that made him world renowned. And the writer had wanted some folks from Asia to be the first to be exposed to it; his schedule was tight but the professor agreed to meet on a Saturday and in his study at his home and offered to meet the group at the airport.

Driving from the airport and upon seeing a pizza restaurant he commented: “I had just met with the people from that pizza company, and told them that I was meeting up with you folks from half way around the world.” He was the consultant of a global pizza brand headquartered in the same city as his university, and they were proud of what to them started as a local pizzeria. “You come from that part of the world that we know very little about, and I am sorry that we have to do it on a Saturday. But please feel at home. I’d be very honest; I wanted foreigners to be the first to critique my research.” And this professor has also lectured at the GE development center and given its global orientation, he was not exactly ignorant of the world.

We don’t have the environment of a US and so our academic community has very little access, like these examples, to the world. For instance, the equivalent of a GE would be the handful of entities of our industrialist-billionaires. But they are locally focused and thus the challenge of our education institutions goes deeper than what it appears. How do we teach about global citizenship? It starts with Philippine citizenship? It’s about the common good and in our faith it’s the Great Commandment or in secular parlance, the Golden Rule? In other words, how do we teach the young how to move beyond family and beyond our parochial orientation? How do we teach compassion so that it is not about giving fish but teaching how to fish? How do we teach them about the future – e.g., interdependence is beyond family and beyond country? How do we teach them character – so that they don’t feel inferior against the powerful and those who don’t play by the rules? If sheltering the young was meant to teach character, how come we demonstrate very little of it – i.e., we’ve recognized, if not accepted, being called among the most corrupt?

Hierarchy may be the law of nature, but given man’s superiority, he learned to be egalitarian – because quite easily the human condition could undo his superior capacity. And it has again come to the fore with the LIBOR scandal (which, as the press reported, bank regulators in the West first noted was a brewing problem before the 2008 collapse of the global financial system.) How do we teach the young that the days of lords and masters are about the past – and the past is to learn from not to live in? How do we demonstrate Einstein’s “the value of education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think”? How do we teach the young how to be inquisitive? How do we teach them to look to the future with the confidence to nurture great expectations? We’ve started with K+12 and the use of the vernacular, but what is our vision for education? It can’t be an ivory tower? To attain economic prosperity we need – beyond investments – technology and innovation as well as talent, product and market development. They can be taught but the real challenge is to bring them down from the head to heart and to the gut!  

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