Idle mind

I saw the DZMM Radio/TV program recently wherein the idea of “no homework” for students was discussed.  It was interesting to hear the opinions of parents regarding the issue.  There are parents who favored, but there are parents who were totally opposed to the idea.

In the first place, I don’t know how this issue came about.  Did it come from the Department of Education?  I missed the beginning of the program; and for that reason, I was not able to know who and for what reason the topic discussed was being debated on air.

I will not take side on this matter.  First, I am not a parent.  But be that as it may, I would like to give my personal insight on the issue.  Allow me to give my opinion on the matter.

In 1949, my father decided to bring the entire family to Spain where we (the children) ended up studying.  I was sent to Barcelona in a Jesuit school, Colegio de San Ignacio en Sarria.  Interno po ako.  I ended up taking 7th and 8th grade before I finished my grade school studies.  Kasi dito sa atin, after grade six, on to high school na.  Thereafter, I was sent and enrolled by my parents in Georgetown Preparatory School in Maryland, just outside Washington D.C. for my high school.  Another Jesuit school with the strictest Jesuit priests I have ever encountered.  Discipline was seriously observed, as it was in Barcelona as a grade school student.  I went on to college in Loyola University.  We were some 2,200 students for boys then, but some 100 only were interned and lived on campus.  The rest of the students lived with their parents.  Now it is coed named “Loyola Marymount University” with dorms for female students on the other side of the huge campus.

I can almost say that I led a cloistered life.  It did not bother me for I grew up with a very strict disciplinarian father.  My mother was a docile woman who never got angry with her children.  She was a mother of few words.  She smiled a lot listening to us.  You can just sense when she is happy or unhappy with any of her children.  When unhappy, she would stay quiet and stay in her room rather than get angry with anyone.  “Sufrida” is the word.  

My student days were different from what is now being discussed of not giving homework to students.  On my part, in all the Jesuit schools I attended, we were kept busy with homeworks that did not give us time to loaf around.  But there were free times for the play room to play billiard, table tennis, watch TV, go to the library to research…  

Ever since, it has been said that “idle mind is the tool of the devil,” meaning to say, students especially those in their formative years must keep their minds occupied.  Not giving them homeworks would give them so much free time to “bull” around.  There might even come a time that they might like the idea of loafing around for the rest of their lives!

Studies and homeworks go together, especially in the students’ formative years.  The idea is to inculcate in their minds the discipline of sinking in their minds to be a thinking person, to be able to decipher right from wrong.  

A student studying inside padyak parked in Manila
(Photo by Monsi A. Serrano/THEPHILBIZNEWS)

Studies including homework are mental exercise (some call it mental gymnastic) to form the young minds to be better citizens, better employees, better businessmen with integrity and better parents.  Kapag lumaki ng walang disiplina na, mga happy-go-lucky at good time na lang ang hahanapin niyan.  Without proper education, mga good-timers at bolero ang labas niyan.  They could even be abusive and disrespectful individuals sanay sa mga kalokohan.  As we take care of ourselves to be healthy, physically, so must we take care of our mind; and more so.  Studying in school and homework go together.  That cannot do the students any harm.  On the contrary, such discipline can make them a better person.  Discipline never killed anyone; on the contrary, disciplined people live longer.

For sure, given more free time, the young might go astray – more drinking sprees, gambling, barkadahan, and possibly experiment on drugs, God willing not.  The young must be kept busy at all times.  For the young and the old, one must have a hobby.  There are those who collect coins, or stamps and what have you with a passion. But having a hobby is very important to cut monotony and can promote the culture of keeping oneself busy; and their minds working; and at the same time enjoying what they are doing; and can be a good investment at the same time.

On my part, I’ve collected art pieces since I was 13 years old.  For me, no idle moments even if I am at home alone.  Going through my collection are moments of good pastime; and you will feel young kasi ‘yong mga paintings and other items around you are 100 years old, 200 years old…  Anyone will feel young beside them.

Based on what I went through, I firmly believe that homeworks are part and parcel of education; and not only that, it forms a sound mind.  As we grow old physically, so must our mind grow young.  

My college years at Loyola University of Los Angeles was not all that easy.  The Jesuit priests were quite conservative; most specially in the dorms for, again, I was an interno and lived on campus with “prefects” (priests) watching over us; staying in a room per wing of the dormitory, seeing to it that we all behave, sleep on time and followed our schedule; and most importantly, no drinking in the rooms.  I never squealed on my roommates, but vodka was their favorite alcoholic drink for it emits no smell, they said.  They locked the bottles in their suitcases to avoid inspection.  On my part, I’ve been totally non-alcoholic.  Never drank alcohol up to now.  I just don’t like the taste. 

Going off campus on weekends were timed.  A few hours to eat out or go watch a movie.  Then back to the dorms early.  We lived by the bell.  Bell at six in the morning for mass at 6:30; breakfast at 7:00 and class at 8:00 A.M.  A regimented life.

In all my schooling in Spain and in the U.S., never did I see the priests meddle in politics; and the nuns as well – no matter how “modern” some of them wanted to be.

On the contrary, in our country, many of our religious are “streetwalkers,” (in the true sense of the word just walking…) meddling with things they should not.  I remember the American Jesuits at the Ateneo before.  They were better than when the “natives” took over.  Thank God, I went abroad for my schooling!  Naguguluhan ako sa patakaran ng mga local priests.  Hindi ko naman nilalahat. Sobrang liberated.

Sa awa ng Diyos, meron namang natitira na mababait, deserving of their solemn vow.    

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