Dr. Emiliano Hudtohan

Educator, Business Writer, Industry Expert and Entrepreneur

Liberal Education and K 12

Editorial Column: Green Light

Published : Manila Standard Today

June 24, 2013

On May 31, 2013  eight Lasallian schools composed of De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (Manila), De La Salle Araneta University (Malabon), La Salle College Antipolo,  University of St. La Salle (Bacolod), De La Salle University-Dasamarinas , De La Salle John Bosco College (Bislig, Surigao),  De La Salle Lipa, and La Salle University (Ozamiz) gathered at De La Salle-Dasmarinas, Cavite City for the third annual convention of Lasalian Association of Tourism and Hospitality Education (Lathe).  As keynote speaker, I was tasked to discuss the role of the Lasallian educator in teaching, research and community extension vis-a-wis the theme of “Advancing Lasallian Hospitality, Culinary and Tourism Education through Research and Innovation.”

Because I consider hospitality, culinary and tourism [HCT] as practical arts involving technical skills, I grounded these disciplines in liberal education. Liberal education is not new in Philippine Lasallian philosophy of education.  In the 60s, De La Salle University an innovative Liberal Arts-Commerce (Lia-Com) and Liberal Arts-Education (Lia-Ed) programs, envisioning graduates are who are professionals anchored in the humanities.

According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, “a liberal education produces persons who are open-minded and free from provincialism, dogma, preconception, and ideology; conscious of their opinions and judgments; reflective of their actions; and aware of their place in the social and natural worlds.” As the faculty, students and administrators of HCT become liberally minded, I believe the Lasallian HCT education will have a differentiated service to their clientele, locally and more importantly globally.

However, educational institutions will have a difficult time squeezing in ‘liberal’ units under general education (GE) subjects to accommodate the K 12 program.  According to Commission on Higher Education technical panel Maris Diokno, the new GE curriculum will be implemented with the first batch of K to 12 graduates.  She also noted that GE subjects for two years will be reduced to one year with a minimum of 36 units. This new direction is a setback for liberal education. The formation of the whole person will be sacrificed  in favor of emphasis on mathematics, science, and technical training.  Ultimately, liberal education will lose its prominent position in higher education studies.

Historically, the K-12 track is a redux of barrio education under the 1900 Schurman Commission.  The Thomasite Boy’s Creed and Girl’s Creed called for preparing the boys for vocational (farming) and training the girls for homemaking “under God’s blue sky and God’s green earth. Had this track been diligently developed in our education system, the two-year havoc which K 12 brings would have been avoided.  Interestingly, I studied at the Ester Araneta Elementary School at the Talisay-Silay Milling Company, Negros Occidental.  Our curriculum included gardening, industrial arts and GMRC.  Practical skills were complemented with behavioural skills. But I lament the fact that the school situated within the sugar milling compound failed to connect our education to the supply chain of sugar production from the hacienda to the industrial plant and to the local and world market.  Rudolf Steiner and Maria Montessori would have done otherwise.

Undoubtedly, HCT courses are aligned with K 12 but these courses must have humanistic orientation for this is what Lasallian education, and for that matter general education, is all about. Today, we need liberal education to further deepen our local identity in an interactive global culture and anchor ourselves to values that make us truly human, as science and technology alter and revolutionize our human functions. Technical educators are challenged to truly humanize our sustainable existence on this planet.

Liberal education allows us to widen our vision experientially. For example, Philippine English is so American in orientation. You don’t order ‘take home’ food In Hong Kong, Singapore and Sydney; you say, ‘take away’ which I thought was wrong English.  There are no CR signs in Europe, only WCs, which I mistakenly interpreted as ‘women’s comfort room’ at Orly Airport in France. Worse, Pinoy English trained me to pronounce every syllable but the Brits say it differently.  On board the Red Bus in London, I kept an eye on the digital screen for my bus stop at Warwick but the audio announced, ‘Next stop. Waric’.  Indeed, travel is liberal education.

Liberal education as an approach to learning empowers individuals to deal with complexity, diversity, and change.  It studies in science, culture, and society and it addresses an in-depth achievement of a particular academic interest. It helps students develop a sense of social responsibility; intellectual and practical skills linked with communication, analytical, and problem-solving skills applied in the real world.  The 2013 survey by Hart Research Associates in America showed 74 per cent of employers prefer this educational approach to college-bound students. [www.aacu.org/leap.]

Liberal education is an essential necessity for all students to be successful in a global economy as well as becoming an informed citizen.  It should be delivered through studies that emphasize the essential learning outcomes across the entire educational continuum—from grade school, high school through college—at progressively higher levels of achievement an across all fields of study.

While St. La Salle did not open any technical school during his time,  it must be noted that the artisans and craftsmen were at the heart of his educational mission.  The “artisans and the poor” whose sons formed the main body of the clientele were served by the Brothers of the Christian Schools in 17th century France.  He noted that the artisans and the poor were “little instructed and [were] occupied all day in gaining a livelihood,” the majority of parents were “not sufficiently instructed” about religion, and that “most parents [were] not sufficiently enlightened” in religious matters.  Lasallian liberal education is anchored in Christian education, in building character and helping the student become productive member of society.

The HCT schools, especially Lasallian schools, are challenged to make room for liberal and Christian education, if they desire to produce more than just technical professionals who are skilled in the art of hotel, culinary, and tourism management.  Thus, liberal education is a must.


I congratulate Dean Leticia O. Delamente LATHE President (2011-2013) and the 2013-2015 officers: Dean Pedro Simon T. Ledesma, President; Dean Joy Zapata, Vice Presidnt; OIC-Dean Chair Geronio G. Ulayao, Secretary; Dr. Maribeth R. Pillo, Treasurer; Chair Andrea M. Pangan, Auditor; and Associate Dean Jefferson S. Buenviaje, PRO in promoting excellence in Hospitality, Culinary, and Tourism education.


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