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Five Pillars of Total Education

VICENTE R. HAO CHIN, JR.

Theosophical Society in the Philippines

Copyright 2010 Issued by the Theosophical Society in the Philippines

1 Iba Street, Quezon City, Philippines Phone: (63-2) 741-5740 http://theosophy.ph philtheos@gmail.com

ISBN 971-616-111-5

Table of Contents

1. Health

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2. Emotional Maturity

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3. Intelligence

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4. Competency

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5. Character

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W hen you send your children to school, try to remember that almost no school gives your children total education that

will prepare them for living. Schools mainly prepare students for academic competency in order that they will be more qualified for whatever career they may pursue in their life. But financial security is but a part of life. There are other aspects which are as important, if not more important, such as fulfilment and happiness. What is the point of having a lot of money if you do not feel fulfilled or happy?

Schools spend up to 14 years systematically teaching students how to master mathematics. Yet do they even spend two weeks systematically teaching young people how to handle stress? Or the art and science of happiness? Or how to have effective relationships? Do they teach students how to handle their anger? Or how to be honest and to practice integrity?

As parents, we must fill in the gaps in our children’s education that the school cannot provide. The home therefore is an important school. It is at home where young minds learn the skills of living. Every day, when you interact with your children, when you have dinner with them, when you speak to them, you are conveying important life lessons to your children. Such lessons must be planned. We must remember too that a crucial element in such life education is modeling – you demonstrate how it is done.

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Five Pillars of Total Education

There are five important aspects in total education. Schools teach only a few of them.

1. Health

total education. Schools teach only a few of them. 1. Health The first pillar of total

The first pillar of total education is to teach young people how to be healthy. When health breaks down, all the dreams and visions of a life can fade and disappear. Many families lose their entire life savings in just one major surgery, and they often incur large debts that they have to pay for many years. Poor health is often accompanied by low or unpredictable energy levels. Winston Churchill once said that the secret of his success was his energy.

There are five important aspects in total education. Schools teach only a few of them.

Physical Education in schools very often does not teach the elements of good health. They teach sports; they teach exercises. But these are not enough for one to be healthy. The most important element of health is diet – what we eat – and many teachers are

noncommittal when it comes to diet because they themselves cannot restrain themselves from the wrong kinds of food and drinks, such as meat and soft drinks.

Do you know what ethnic groups have the longest lifespan in the world? They are the Okinawans of Japan, the Hunzas of Northern Pakistan, the Vilcacambas of Peru and the Abkhasians of the Ural Mountains of Russia. They have the highest concentration of centenarians who are still healthy and active in society. What do these four groups have in common? They are mostly vegetarian in their diet.

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Five Pillars of Total Education

The largest study of health and nutrition ever made is the 20-year research now known as the China Study which was done by Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine. The head of the study, Dr Colin Campbell, summarized his findings as follows:

When health breaks down, all the dreams and visions of a life can fade and disappear.

“People who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic diseases. These results could not be ignored.”

Do you know which ethnic groups have the shortest lifespan in the world? They are the Eskimos, the Laplanders and the Greenlanders. They live in the Arctic circle where there are no plants since the land is covered with ice and snow practically all the time. Their diet is exclusively based on meat and fish. Their average lifespan is only 35-45 years old.

Teach your children then the foundations of a healthy life, starting with diet. The other important aspects of good health are exercise, avoidance of harmful vices and a wholesome philosophy of life.

2. Emotional Maturity

The second pillar of total education is emotional maturity that brings about equanimity and cheerfulness. How little our children learn about this in school! In fact, school life is often a source of stress, depression, frustration, fear, anger and hurt.

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Emotional maturity is so crucial in the education of young people that the school must assiduously teach this day by day, year by year. But the problem is that most teachers themselves are not emotionally mature. They use anger and fear in handling students.

Emotional habits such as fear, anger, depression and resentment are learned as children grow up. While there are instinctive roots to these reaction patterns, the inborn factor is insignificant when compared with the learned part. Babies for example have only two instinctive fears: fear of loud sounds and fear of falling. In time these two disappear, but as they grow up they learn a

mountain of new fears from their elders and from society:

fear of authority, rejection, public speaking, criticism, snakes, cockroaches, confrontation, blood, dentists, accidents, death, etc. Fear distorts perceptions and clouds judgement, resulting in unwise reactions and decisions.

Anger is another example of a habit that can be very harmful. People who have uncontrolled tempers often are avoided by others and become ineffective in their relationships and in their work. In your workplace, look around you and try to identify the people whom you think are worthy of promotion as managers or leaders. I am almost certain that these people are not slaves to their temper and anger. They do not lash out indiscriminately at others when they are in a foul mood. They handle their emotions well. Daniel Goleman in his best-selling book Emotional Intelligence wrote:

“IQ gets you a job, but EQ [emotional quotient] gets you promoted.”

Temperamental people are hard to deal with; they are often unreasonable not only at work but at home. Thus their marital

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Five Pillars of Total Education

lives are often on the rocks. Such temperamental people are in fact frequent candidates for termination from their jobs, and some of them land in jail for assault or murder due to uncontrolled rage.

Emotional maturity is so crucial in the education of young people that the school must assiduously teach this day by day, year by year. But the problem is that most teachers themselves are not emotionally mature. They use anger and fear in handling students.

Can emotional maturity be learned? Yes, definitely, it can be taught and learned. It is no accident that some people seem to be calm but effective in dealing with difficult situations, while others fly out in rage at the slightest provocation. They each learned these modes of reaction from their elders.

Intelligence is the capacity to understand things and to apply such understanding in various life situations.

An important foundation of emotional maturity is learning how to handle tension and stress in daily life. It is well-known that there are already time-tested techniques in dealing with daily stress, and yet how many schools teach these in their classrooms? How can teachers teach these when they themselves are stressed?

3. Intelligence

Intelligence is the capacity to understand things and to apply such understanding in various life situations. What’s the point of learning algebra if they cannot at all be used in life or train us in a

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Five Pillars of Total Education

higher order of thinking? Schools are supposed to be good in developing this aspect, but unfortunately there are many schools which fail seriously in the nurturing of intelligence in children. Teachers and administrators often worry too much about grades, exams and the completion of the assigned syllabus so that they don’t have time to assess whether the students have intelligently absorbed the lessons or whether they have just memorized the answers.

A part of the problem is due to the emphasis on grading systems and competitive honors in schools. Students begin to equate achievement with grades and honours rather with true intelligence.

A part of the problem is due to the emphasis on grading systems and competitive honors in schools. Students begin to equate achievement with grades and honours rather with true intelligence. Most teachers are aware that grades and written examinations are not true

measurements of the genuine capability of students, and yet they are forced by the system to use them as if they are the best ways of assessing learning. I have talked to many teachers who admit that they tend to rush to finish the coverage of a textbook simply because it is mandated by the syllabus of the course, even if the students have not really understood the lessons in an insightful, intelligent and critical manner. To many of them, the dominant criterion of being a successful teacher from the point of view of the prevailing system is when the students pass the exams, especially national exams. If we reflect on it, we will realize that the time spent on memorizing the right answers is not only wasted but also psychologically harmful because the students begin to think that in life they will be measured by examinations, that is, the

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Five Pillars of Total Education

external assessments of other people, rather than by genuine competence.

Intelligence is nurtured

by

curiosity, encouragement,

creative

games,

freedom,

investigation,

puzzle

thinking,

an

environment

solving,

critical

of

conceptual understanding,

practice

in

actual

applications

in

problem

developing

the

An intelligent person is not necessarily a competent person. Competence is a capacity difficult to measure but quite easily recognized when seen. When a person is assigned a task, he or she can be relied upon to accomplish it with minimal supervision.

solving,

capacity for insight and lateral thinking, etc. It is hard to put numerical grades to such abilities because they are multifaceted. Howard Gardner of Harvard has identified nine kinds of intelligence, and IQ tests measure only one or two of them.

4. Competency

An intelligent person is not necessarily a competent person. Competence is a capacity difficult to measure but quite easily recognized when seen. When a person is assigned a task, he or she can be relied upon to accomplish it with minimal supervision.

Competency covers a broad spectrum of capabilities that include self-confidence, intelligence, self-discipline, time management, effectiveness in dealing with people, resourcefulness, creativity, stick-to-it-iveness, perseverance, etc.

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Five Pillars of Total Education

High academic achievements do not necessarily translate into competency. In certain ways, wrong schooling can damage competency, such as when teachers inflict fear on the students instead of developing self-confidence, or when schools over-emphasize grades instead of comprehension.

The fifth pillar of total education is character. Without this quality, no one can truly be successful in life because character is the foundation of fulfilment and happiness.

Competence develops from the constant practice of one’s intelligence, self-discipline and similar qualities in facing a situation or a problem. Small triumphs increase one’s self-confidence in being competent. Repeated failures decrease the feeling of competency. Thus, parents and teachers must give repeated opportunities to young people

to apply their intelligence and skills in complex situations such that they feel encouraged through bite-size achievements and being praised or appreciated.

The development of competency is not a hit-and-miss thing.

A truly good school is good in developing competency. If the

subject, for example, is business administration, then the

teachers actually guide the students while the latter get involved

in such activities as actual entrepreneurial ventures. Competency

is not simply cognitive understanding. It trains one’s entire being (physical, emotional, mental and moral aspects) in an integrated manner. A good parent or a good school plans activities and opportunities for the development of such capabilities. It can start at a very young age, such as when a parent asks his 5-year-old son to buy tickets to a ride, or to buy food from a stall. Or when children are systematically trained to practice time

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management at home and in school. Resourcefulness, problem-solving, self-confidence, optimism, self-mastery, perseverance — these are some examples of the qualities that should be developed in young people to help them become competent.

5. Character

The fifth pillar of total education is character. Without this quality, no one can truly be successful in life because character is the foundation of fulfilment and happiness.

Character has to be systematically nurtured with as much perseverance as when we teach children mathematics. Parents and teachers must be constantly on the lookout for windows of opportunity in developing character in young people.

Character is that collection of qualities that enable one to see what is right and wrong, and the moral courage to do the right thing; to forego present pleasure

and gratification in favour of a higher value or future goal; to be capable of loving and being compassionate; to be selfless while attending to one’s own legitimate needs; to be a part of the solution of the world rather than a part of the problem. The highest degree of character is what is called spirituality, which is not the same as religiosity. Spirituality is the capacity to see deeper levels of reality and the larger unity which transcend our egocentric nature. Egocentricity is the root cause of unhappiness and insecurity. True character formation is an unfolding process rather than a conditioning process. It is the emergence of our deepest nature.

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Five Pillars of Total Education

Theodore Roosevelt, one of the great American presidents, wrote an essay called “Character and Successin 1900. He stated:

In the long run, in the great battle of life, no brilliancy of intellect, no perfection of bodily development, will count when weighed against that assemblage of virtues, of moral qualities, under the name of character; and if between any two contestants, the difference in character on the right side is as great as the difference of intellect or strength the other way, it is the character side that will win.

Character has to be systematically nurtured with as much perseverance as when we teach children mathematics. Parents and teachers must be constantly on the lookout for windows of opportunity in developing character in young people. These windows open almost daily in small things like sibling conflict, conversations about national leaders and news items, adversities encountered by them, opportunities for kindness or service, etc.

Teaching character, however, differs from the way we teach mathematics or computing in one important respect. Character involves an outlook and a way of life, not simply a skill or technique. While you can demonstrate the multiplication process on a sheet of paper, you can only demonstrate character in the way one lives. In teaching character, then, we must keep in mind the advice of Dr Albert Schweitzer, the Nobel Prize winner for peace:

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.”

Character is the ingredient that makes an individual a valued citizen of the society and of the world. A person of character is a part of the solution to human society, not part of the problem. They do not create more violence, division, hatred, injury and injustice. They are part of the silent global team of healers of the psychological wounds that they world suffers from.

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Five Pillars of Total Education

In summary, these then are the five pillars of total education:

1. Health

2. Emotional maturity

3. Intelligence

4. Competence

5. Character

Develop these qualities in your children, and you would not need to leave with them riches or fame. They will rise up to excellence in their own fields, and, what is more important, they will live a fulfilled and happy life.

Vicente R. Hao Chin, Jr. is the National President of the Theosophical Society in the Philippines and the Past President of the Indo-Pacific Federation of the TS. He is the President of Golden Link College in Caloocan City, Philippines and Chairman of several other schools. He edits the Theosophical Digest and Peace Ideas, and has published several books such as The Process of Self-Transformation and Why Meditate? He has been conducting the Self-Transformation Seminar in many countries in the world.

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The Theosophical Society

The Theosophical Society was formed at New York on November 17, 1875, and incorporated in Chennai (Madras), India, on April 3, 1905.

Its three declared Objects are:

To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color.

To encourage the study of Comparative Religion, Philosophy and Science.

To investigate unexplained laws of Nature and the powers latent in man.

“Theosophy is the shoreless ocean of universal truth, love and wisdom reflecting its radiance on the earth, while the Theosophical Society is only a visible bubble on that reflection. Theosophy is divine nature, visible and invisible, and its Society human nature trying to ascend to its divine parent.”

H. P. BLAVATSKY

Theosophy is not a religion. The term has been used as an expression of the ageless wisdom of life that has existed since time immemorial and which may be found in the great spiritual traditions in the world. Its worldview is founded on universal oneness amidst apparent diversity, the reality of inner planes and inner laws of nature, and the existence of the path to self-realization and the attainment of each individual’s highest spiritual potentials. As a way of life, it promotes understanding, unity, respect for all religious