|Rizal Park, Manila|
The following is an address delivered by Margarita V. Hamada,
Founder/Directress, on the occasion of HARVENT SCHOOLS’
Joint Achievers’ Day, April 2, 2011, Sison Auditorium,
Achievers’ Day is no ordinary day for us in Harvent School. This is the day that we celebrate our pupils’ achievements---achievements that are not at all ordinary.
The pupils who just received their Independent Reader’s certificates are indeed independent readers. They can read, write and speak in understandable English, whether they are just 4, or 5 or 8 years old.
Those who just received their grade school diplomas have passed my rigorous standards for higher order thinking. This means, they are not ordinary grade school graduates. They can summarize what they read in grammatically correct English as they develop new insights out of them. Now, many college graduates cannot do what my graduates can easily do and most employers will heartily agree with me!
My officers know that we need not trouble ourselves developing our pupils’ skills for higher order thinking, because most parents demand only one thing from us---to make their children graduate as early as possible whether their thinking powers have been developed or not. We refuse to do that. We refuse to follow the crowd because we hate to be “ordinary”. To us, “ordinary” is a bad word that connotes danger.
Modern times have made ordinary people an endangered species. Today, as Elbert Hubbard has astutely observed, “One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men, but no machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.”
Being ordinary, then, is a “voluntary misfortune”, to borrow the words of Nicholas Ling as he describes ignorance. And so, we refuse to produce tragic graduates whose skills can be done better, faster and more cheaply by machines. Instead, we produce and shall continue to produce what I call, future “aristocrats”.
My aristocrats are not necessarily blue-blooded, surrounded by security guards everywhere they go. No. They are a special breed of people who are in no particular danger, because they are more useful alive, than dead. They are useful because no machine can replace them. But more than this, they are people who are not dangerous to others or to themselves.
These people I call “aristocrats” read, and they read a lot. They love to read because they understand what they read. And they read not just to learn, but also to unlearn. Having been trained to think in grade school, by being appreciated more for asking questions than for answering teachers’ questions, and for their original insights than for standard ones, they are habitual skeptics who doubt and not just swallow and follow everything they see and read. Hence, their beliefs and opinions are tentative, never fixed. They therefore are not fanatics, and so they suffer less and are never the cause of society’s troubles.
Aristocrats never stop developing themselves fully and well, even after they get a college degree. They leave their university’s professors to embrace the best educators found only outside formal classrooms, namely---hobbies, travel and adventure, movies and documentaries, odd jobs, odd personalities, kindred spirits, life’s many challenges, and always, books, books, books.
And so, aside from not being endangered or dangerous, because of their excellent education outside school, aristocrats are our source of all creature comforts. They renovate and innovate. They discover. They invent better products. They design better systems. And they share their new ideas, their new discoveries, their new systems, services and products to enrich our lives as they enrich their own.
H.P. Brougham describes intellectuals as “easy to lead but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave.” His description fits my description of aristocrats who are invariably intellectuals. Although they are not slaves, they drive themselves harder than slaves in serving the community they belong to, helping their officials do a good job, so they need not have to throw them out of office through counterproductive coup d’ etats. Aristocrats are therefore Mother Earth’s greatest treasures and safe-keepers
Therefore, my dear graduates, these are my parting words to you as you leave Harvent School---DO NOT BE ORDINARY. To be ordinary is not just a tragic misfortune but a crime against your good selves whom I have given the foundation to become aristocrats. Instead, be IRREPLACEABLE.
If you choose to be ordinary and replaceable, you accept what religion declares---that this world is a vale of tears, and you will conspire with ordinary people to make it into a place of suffering, indeed.
Be the aristocrats that I have fashioned you to be and transform this valley of tears into Heaven on earth, while we, who have inspired you to think and rethink, are still around to enjoy it.
If this is a dream, it is such a beautiful dream and “a dream come true” should be the phrase we must all declare to one and all one day----a day not long forthcoming, I hope!
Congratulations to you for having blossomed under our tutelage. Congratulations to your parents who tried to believe in my ideals and to rethink their long-held ones. And congratulations to my staff for helping me achieve these ideals in each of you!
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you.
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Newspaper articles and essays by Margarita Ventinella-Hamada as featured on this blog:
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