Understanding Southridge by Dr. Paul Dumol

Pages 1 to 40            Pages 41 to 80      Pages 81 to 133







            Southridge School was founded in 1979 by the Parents for Education Foundation, Inc., (PAREF).  Like the FOMENTO, a similar group of parents in Spain, the aim of PAREF is the establishment of schools characterized by the following:



(a)    a program for character formation;


(b)   fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church in doctrinal matters;


(c)    close collaboration with the parents of their students in the attainment of school goals;


(d)   a lay spirituality in the spiritual formation offered to the students.


The founders of Southridge observed that the financial management of schools has become so complicated that the administrators of a number of schools have been forced to devote most or all of their time to it.  Unfortunately, finance was not usually their expertise, with the result that they did a poor job of financial management and neglected education to boot.  From the start, then, this principle has been followed in Southridge; “Education to the educators; everything else to those competent in them.”  This means that parents take care of the financial administration of the school and other technical tasks unrelated to education, while educators concentrate on education. Parents do not interfere in the technical aspects of education, leaving all final decisions to the educators, just as the educators do.




            [1]All the characteristics of FOMENTO schools identified above are characteristics as well of Colegio Gaztelueta (Bilbao, Spain), which actually served as the model of the former Gaztelueta, rather than the FOMENTO schools, was also the model followed by Southridge in its first four years.


            [2]This does not mean that parents themselves have to take on these tasks.  They may delegate them to competent persons.  What is important is that select parents are always available for consultation and that they check on the work of the persons charged with non-educational matters.


            [3]This does not mean they are oblivious of non-educational matters. See pp.


            [4]Parents who complain that their suggestions have not been followed often have to be told politely that, while their suggestions are indeed good, current practice on the other hand is not


not interfere in matters of business and financial administration.


            At the time Southridge was founded, academic standards in many schools, including schools with a good reputation, were deteriorating.  This was happening in all subject areas except Mathematics and Science.  To avoid this, it became a specific policy of PAREF to have English and the humanistic subjects taught well.


            The first Southridge educators strove to teach whatever there was to teach in the most effective way, whether or not this was conventional.  This was a direct influence Colegio Gaztelueta whose school officers I interviewed and whose book on the occasion of the school’s twenty-fifth anniversary was our “Bible” in the first years.  We preferred the Gaztelueta approach to teaching to that of FOMENTO schools.  “Teaching in the most effective way” has often meant inconvenience, but we have always reasoned out that effective teaching, and not comfort, should be the primary concern of the teacher. .  After seeing for ourselves what the effective teaching method is in a particular subject, then and only then do we try to discover the “most comfortable way” of going about it.


            The four characteristics of FOMENTO schools plus the three additional characteristics described in the paragraphs above have been distinguishing characteristics of Southridge School since its founding.






            The goals of education in so far as education is a human act are the goals of Southridge.  Thus, Southridge does not formulate its own educational goals; these are determined by human nature


bad. Which should prevail is a decision they should leave up to the school.  The school does assure them that their suggestions are seriously considered.  A school which changes its academic policies according to the likes and dislikes of parents would end up in a shambles, mainly because parents do not usually have competence in the technical aspects of education.  The latter is, of course, the main reason why there are schools.  If a parent refuses to accept a legitimate practice of the school, then he should transfer his child to another school.  To sow discontent among the parents would be unethical.


            [5]This was probably one source of the misimpression that Southridge was emphasizing English and the humanities at the expense of Mathematics and Science.  The other source of this false impression was the fact that for a number of years the teachers of English and the humanities happened to be better than the teachers  of Mathematics and Science.


 itself.  These goals are:


(a)    to develop wisdom and virtue,


(b)   to develop patriotism, and


(c)    to develop professional skills in the student.


Insofar as Southridge wishes to impart a Christian education, fourth goal is:


(d)   to educate the student as a son of God.


By wisdom is meant the knowledge a human being must have to be happy in this life and in the next.  Its highest form is theological and philosophical knowledge.  By virtue is meant those habits that make a human being good.  By patriotism is meant love for one’s country.


If the first goal of education seeks the perfection of the individual as a person, the second seeks his perfection as a social being.  The third seeks to develop in the individual the skills he will need to provide for himself and his family and to contribute to the development of society.


These three goals have been listed hierarchically, the first being the most important.  The first goal is also the most elusive and for that reason the most easily neglected; this is ironic, since it gives meaning to the two other goals.  People often feel satisfied with a superficial understanding of this goal, perhaps because it is not easy to understand it deeply.  We must reflect on it again and again and criticize the education offered in Southridge in its light.  This goal is not fulfilled merely by offering classes of Religion and Philosophy or with.



            [6]While a person cannot take care of himself because of immaturity, education is the task of his parents.  It becomes the task of the school only by delegation of the parents (not the state).

            As with schools, so with parents: parents do not formulate their own educational goals.  Unfortunately, parents may be unaware of the natural goals of education.  Thus, the school may have to educate the parents of their students in this matter.

            Understanding and appreciation of these goals is most important.  Without understanding of the goals of education, education becomes superficial; without appreciation of its goals, education (both teaching and learning) becomes drudgery.


            [7]These goals are general goals.  How they are achieved changes as the student matures.

            [8]We have always followed Thomas Aquinas’s teachings in this matter.


occasional exhortations to good behavior.  (That would be a most naïve mistake.)  Wisdom must pervade all subjects taught; all teachers must struggle for virtue; all of them must seek wisdom eagerly.


            The second goal should not be confused with nationalism, which is love for one’s country even at the expense of other countries.  Formation in patriotism is also formation in citizenship.  Again, example is important to teach this, teachers must strive to grow in patriotism.


            The third goal is the only goal of many people in schools.  It is frequently related to money-making.  In Southridge, it is related to the first two goals.  In relation to the first goal, the third goal means enabling students to learn by themselves.  In relation to the second goal, it means enabling students to serve their country through their work.  The third goal may be re-stated as teaching students how to work.  Work is a means of achieving the first two goals of education.


            The fourth goal cannot be isolated from the rest; it imbues them.  It is not one more goal in the list.  In its light,


(a)    we understand wisdom and virtue to mean Christian wisdom and virtue.


(b)   we understand patriotism to mean a manifestation not only of justice but also of charity, and


(c)    we see work as a way of serving God.


Teachers need to be formed specifically in this.


            School officers should reflect frequently on the goals of education.  This is a serious obligation.  It pays to discuss these goals with others; reflection and conversation are the best ways to deepen our understanding of ideas.


            The reason why we need to reflect on educational goals repeatedly is to see what their relation is to concrete situations, how to realize them, what obstruct their realization.  This we can only start to do by knowing ‘where we are,” that is, by viewing the current situation in the light of the ideal.  Just this, however, may already be difficult.  Furthermore, elements of the situation may change so much that programs that were working a few months ago no longer do.  The school officer must have “X-ray” vision, so to speak, to see beyond the hurly-burly of school life, of social life, into the real educational needs of students at a given moment in history.



            [9]The formation of teachers is above all formation in wisdom and virtue.


An officer who does not understand the goals of education has no vision of where the school is going.  An officer with no vision will have no foresight, nor will he know his priorities.  He will be satisfied with the mediocre—with the conventional and the convenient.  Worst of all, he will think he is doing a good job.





            The PAREF philosophy of education is the approach used in PAREF schools to achieve educational goals; although all educational institutions have (or should have) the same goals, one institution may differ from another in the way it attains these goals.  The PAREF philosophy of education is “Parents first, teachers second, and children last.’


            This philosophy of education means that the education of children is the consequence firstly of the way parents bring up their children and only secondly of the way teachers teach.  We have come to realize in Southridge that this is true even with respect to attaining the third educational goal.  What this philosophy of education claims in relation to the first two goals of education is very clear: insofar as wisdom and virtue are best taught by example, the education of children is the direct result of the personal efforts of parent and teacher to acquire wisdom and virtue.  Thus, the school actively encourages parents and teachers to acquire wisdom and virtue and makes available.




            [10]By the conventional I mean “what everyone else does or thinks”; by the convenient, “what is most comfortable or pleasing to everyone.”  Except in points which we were sure were truly insignificant, we have never done things because “that’s what everybody else does” or because “that’s what will make everybody else happy.”  We have always tried to do things because “that’s the right thing to do” or because “that’s the best way of doing things.”  We have always discussed the reasons for doing things: just because x is what FOMENTO schools or Gaztelueta or Woodrose School does has never been considered a sufficient reason to do it.  On a few occasions, we have had to make “political” decisions, but we have done so following the motto, “Ceder sin conceder con animo de recuperar” (“Yield without conceding with the intention of eventually recovering”).


            [11]This philosophy of education comes from the founder of the Opus Dei Prelature, Msgr. Josemaria Escriva.


            [12]This realization of the Management Staff has a precise date.


            [13]No one is forced to acquire wisdom or virtue in PAREF schools; no one can be

            We must be careful not to transform encouragement into to them to do so.


            The PAREF philosophy of education is the educational approach that should be used in Southridge even when it seems possible  to achieve educational goals in a much faster and better way through another approach.  Minimum activities should be identified activities should never be neglected,



pressure.  Pressure in whatever form, whether subtle or strong, convert or overt, is odious.  Two forms of pressure we may unconsciously apply are the manifestation of disapproval of perfectly legitimate behavior (a frown is enough) and the manifestation of disappointment over a person’s refusal to join an activity that could help him improve himself (an accustomed silence is enough).  These forms of pressure bring preple to do what we would like them to do out of fear of displeasing us.  That, in my opinion, would be wrong.  It is precisely the strategy for developing virtue in children which we condemn in our talks to parents.  We must be careful about our spontaneous reactions.  We must make it clear that we respect the free decisions of people and that this in no way diminishes them in our mind.  Of course, it is possible for a teacher or parent to experience the persuasiveness of example and reason as pressure.  There is nothing wrong with such pressure, if such it is.

            I recall that a teacher on the first year of Southridge called the talks on virtues which we were giving teachers then “brainwashing.”  What is brainwashing?  A quick look at the dictionary will reveal that this former teacher of Southridge was using the word irresponsibly.  I see the difference between what we are doing and brainwashing in the following way.  Brainwashing uses non-rational means to bring a person to accept certain principles.  We always appeal to reason.  What about repetition?  Isn’t it a non-rational means?  But what is repeated is precisely the appeal to reason!  I have spent some time on this topic because this accusation could come up once again in the future.

            What about the obligatory attendance in the classes of Christian doctrine for teachers?  The purpose of those classes is certainly not to force teachers to believe what the Church teaches on faith and morals.  Rather, it is to make sure that they know the teaching of the Church so that in their respective classes they do not contradict what the students learn in Religion class.


            [14]The “other” approach that will frequently occur to school officers is precisely to rescind from parent formation.  Parent formation may seem complicated and difficult, partly because we are still trying to find out the best way to go about it and partly because the parents in the school have to be convinced that they need to go through it.  With time, I suppose, its complications will be smoothed out and its difficulties will vanish.






            The objectives of grade school and high school education are intermediate, not terminal goals.  Their attainment prepares the student to attain higher educational objectives, those of the university.  They are determined by the age of the students.


            The objectives of high school education as steps towards attaining goals of education are the following:


(1)   An understanding of the basic ideas of theology and philosophy


(2)   The cultivation of virtue.


(3)   Extensive knowledge of the Philippines as apolitical community


(4)   Clarity, order, and precision in thought; skill in analysis, comparison and contrast, judgment; knowing how to reflect.


The objectives of grade school education are the following:



            [15]Southridge students are divided into four age groups corresponding to four Modules:


            Ages 6 to 8:      Prep to Grade 2:           Module A

            Ages 9 to 11:    Grades 3 to 5:              Module B                    

            Ages 12 to 14:  Grade 6 to 1st Year      Module C

            Ages 15 to 17:  2ND TO 4th Years;         Module D


For the purposes of this paper, “high school” refers to Module D while “grade school” refers to Modules A to C.




            [16]Perhaps all that should be said is that whatever thinking he should do the high school student has to do well.  I have listed qualities of thought and specific thinking skills that may be developed in my experience in high school students.  A good reference for what may be demanded intellectually of high school students is Theodore Sizer’s Horaces’ compromise.

(1)   “Catechism facts” and a love for reality


(2)   The acquisition of good habits.


(3)   Facts about the Philippines


(4)   Reading, writing, speaking, listening, calculation, estimation, measurement, critical judgment.


These objectives are intimately related to one another.  It would not do to arrange them in a hierarchy to find out which objectives should be given greater emphasis.  By the hierarchy of educational goals, the objectives involving professional skills should rank lowest and yet students no longer be taught these after high school, unlike wisdom and virtue.  Wisdom and patriotism are usually the fruits of college education.  If the student usually acquires theological and philosophical knowledge and a deeper knowledge of his country after high school, then the importance of developing his professional skills in grade school and high school becomes clear: these skills will be his indispensable tools to acquire knowledge in college and adult life.  The truth is that the development of professional skills is the reason why grade schools and high schools exist.  The home can handle competently (and much more effectively) the education in wisdom, virtue, and patriotism, and a more specialized knowledge of religion, philosophy, and one’s own country may be acquired in college.


On the other hand, this does not mean we teach professional skills as though they were an end in themselves.  The hierarchy of the terminal goals of education is not suspended in grade school or high school.  The adolescent should get a clear



            [17]I have frequently talked to the Module A teachers about instilling “love for reality” in students.  What I have told them can be applied by Module B and C teachers.  I have likewise encouraged Science teachers to put students “in contact with” reality.  Teachers must consciously seek to develop a love for reality in their students because children today are more fascinated with TV, movies, computer games, and pop music than with reality.


            [18]What is the difference between the cultivation of virtue and the acquisition of good habits?  Good habits become virtues only when one knows why one does the good acts one does and when that reason is good.  Good habits may be acquired unawares—in a good home or school; we acquire virtues consciously.


            [19]These are the intellectual skills listed by Mortimer Adler in his Paideia Proposal.


            [20]Under virtue I include patriotism, which is part of the virtue of justice.


message from his teachers in school: professional skills are a means to attain goals far nobler than mere money-making.  He may disagree with this message, but the important point is that he has received it.


            Grade school and high school education can help in the attainment of the first two goals of education by actually putting students on the road that leads to them.  I do not think, however, that this usually happens.  Often the most we can expect from grade school and high school education is to foster in students the attitudes that would make the attainment of the first two goals of education possible and easy.


            It may seem unnecessary to point out the intimate connection between wisdom and virtue but sometimes people talk as though the character of formation takes place in the school only and not in the classroom.  Character formation takes place everywhere in school.  When the students are taught wisdom in the classes of Religion, Values Education, Literature, History, Composition, and Pilipino, character formation is taking place.  While it is true that wisdom without virtue is mere theory, virtue without wisdom is simply goodishness.  The character formation program of the school depends on its intellectual formation program, just as the will depends on the intellect.


            Ideally, virtue must begin to dig its roots into the personality of the child in high school.  The acquisition of virtue becomes harder later on when bad habits may have taken root.  Thus, after the development of professional skills, I would say that the development of virtue is the most important task of Southridge.  The development of virtue is difficult.  (No one can say he has successfully formed his tutee in a certain virtue upon the latter’s graduation from high school.)  Development of virtue in the case of most students really means “preparing the soil,” “laying foundations.”  By the end of high school, the task of developing virtue remains unfinished; we hope it has at least begun.


            If we intent to teach virtue seriously, then we cannot avoid teaching patriotism seriously because patriotism is part of situation, and citizenship in the Philippines is part of the situation the student finds himself in.  To ignore it and concentrate on virtues related to life only in the home and in the school may be tantamount to teaching that “the country is not




            [21]And intellectual formation likewise!



            [22]In the brief history of Southridge, I have seen students full of promise on graduation wither into disappointing stumps in a couple of years.  They may. Of course, recover; perhaps the seeds planted by the tutor are still there, dormant.

that important, and in fact it is.  We shouldn’t forget that for some people love for their country is the start of their road to wisdom.


            Is it possible to know if we are bringing our students closer to the goals of education?  We will be able to answer this question only apropos the goals involving professional skills.  Apropos the other goals we will probably never know the answer.  The best we can do is asked if we had applied the means to achieve the first two goal.  For a PAREF school to ask itself this question is the same as to ask itself two questions; whether it had done everything it could to make sure that the parents of the students were doing what they should as parents and whether it had tried its best to make sure that the teachers were excellent teachers.  If the answer to both these questions is yea, then the school is doing well.





            We have to explain to both parents and teachers what the PAREF philosophy means in concrete, practical terms.  A practical understanding of this philosophy is quite different form a theoretical understanding of it.


            It has not been easy to know exactly how to go about it.  We pick up beautiful ideas from Urteaga, Isaacs, or FOMENTO, but do not know how to apply them or how to monitor their application.  The PAREF philosophy of education is prey to conventional approaches that accomplish little.  I am under the impression that most parents think fleetingly at best about how they should collaborate with the school.  For most of them collaboration with the school means giving money or convincing friends to enroll their children in Southridge or donating computers or air conditioners.  This is NOT the parental collaboration the PAREF philosophy of education envisages, although it is not excluded by that philosophy.  The parental collaboration the PAREF philosophy envisages involves the very process of the child’s formation; not its externals.


            At this moment in Southridge history, we, the school officers, must do the thinking in this area.  If parents who




            [23]From time to time we may be tempted to measure to success of the school not in the light of the goals of education but in other ways: by the enrollment size, by the number of buildings, by the order and discipline among the boys, by happiness of the parents.  These “other ways” will always be deceptive measures of success.  A school could have long queues of student applicants, numerous impressive buildings, an orderly and well-disciplined student body, and very enthusiastic parents and still be a failure


understand the goals of the school can help us, well and good, but the assistance of these parents is not indispensable.  We must initiate the programs, do the spadework.  Parents will come later on to improve what we have begun and hopefully take over, but at the moment, we should do the starting up.


            There is a messianic way of understanding the PAREF philosophy of education of which I myself have been guilty: “Save the parents first, then the teachers, and the children will be saved.’  The messiahs in this view are the school officers.  Not few parents have caught the messianic tone and resented it—with reason, because the parents are part of PAREF.  PAREF is not a small coterie of educational experts.  The philosophy of education is a reminder to parents that they have to take care of themselves first, if they want their children to be educated.  The PAREF motto also means that, before blaming the teacher for their child’s apparent failure in school, they should see whether they are not to blame themselves: perhaps they (or the home environment) are the source of attitudes, values, or habits that impede the boy’s learning.


            The PAREF philosophy of education is similarly a reminder to teachers that they cannot hope to educate the child independently of the parents.  Thus, they must alert parents to the existence of any harmful influences in the home.  The PAREF motto is also a reminder that the teacher will have no lasting influence on the child if he is not demanding on himself as well.




            [24]They are not too many.  In my twelve years in Southridge how often have I heard the suggestion made that parents give talks to fellow parents.  The assumption is that, since these activities involve parents, parents understand them best and are best qualified to handle them or that they will be more credible than non-parents.  Non sequitur!  (This is an example of conventional--and mistaken--thinking.)  The fact of being a parent does not qualify one to be an effective or credible speaker before parents.  The best talk I’ve heard on sex education was from a priest and the dullest from a parent of Southridge.  All things being equal perhaps a parent rather than a teacher is the better choice to give a talk to parents, but all things should be equal; otherwise, the better, more effective speaker should be chosen, whether he be teacher or parent, layman or priest.


            [25]I say this because I have seen many good activities postponed (and sometimes eventually forgotten) while a fruitless search for parent speakers or organizers are held.


            [26]This is especially true of the teacher’s work habits.  I don’t see how we can complain about the students’ lack of punctuality in submitting papers if we ourselves are tardy in returning corrected papers.  How can we complain about students being lazy to consult the dictionary if we are lazy too, to do






An Important Clarification


It is possible, I think, to be a parent who collaborates well with the school without ever coming to the school except for tutorial chats.  I have in mind parents whose son is doing well academically and who will never have to see the class adviser.  Needless to say, their son is no disciplinary problem either.  They feel they understand what it means to be good parents and so never attend parent formation seminars.  For one reason or other, say, professional, they may never attend parent get-togethers or Southridge family celebrations.  They may never help the school financially or materially.  And yet they collaborate with the school in the way the PAREF philosophy envisions parental collaboration.  Conversely, it is also possible to have parents who attend all the parent activities of the school and yet do not collaborate as they should in that deeper way I had mentioned earlier.  I think this point is important, because we tend to measure parent collaboration by the number of activities parents attend or volunteer for.  On the contrary, there are many parents in the Philippines who have never set foot in their children’s school, except perhaps on enrollment day or for awarding ceremonies but who would be considered good parents from the point of view of PAREF.  The tutor is probably the best person to determine whether or not a parent is a good PAREF parent.  The work the school would have to do in parent formation would be minimal given conscientious parents.  The school would then be able to concentrate on its part in the education of the child.




            [27]The term “parent formation” is resented by some parents because it implies parents have no formation.  The term also has a messianic ring to it.  Perhaps the seminars are better called “information seminars.”


            [28]The tutor after all is charged with determining whether or not the parents of a student need formation and of what sort.


            [29]In practice, Southridge may have much to do in parent formation if the present trend continues of parents spending little time at home and being affected by dubious schools of child psychology.

            We tend to think parents are doing their job of collaboration if their son is doing well in school.  That would be a dangerous presumption.  Parents are doing their job if they are fostering the right values and attitudes at home.  The son’s good performance is not a sign they are actually doing this.  Once again we are in the tutor’s territory.

            So far in Southridge history there have been a few examples of students who performed very well in school and who are presently in a shambles, almost certainly because of a certain weakness in their character which was in fact noticeable while they were in school but was not given too much importance.  This weakness was unwittingly fostered by parents who demanded.






            Because it is a school, Southridge attains the goals of education mainly through the teacher; because it is a PAREF school, it achieves the goals also through the tutor.  Needless to say, these two agents of education do not supplant the parents as the primary agent of education, but work together (“co-labor-ate”) with them.



The Teacher


            “A school is only as good as its teachers”: we should never forget this.  If school officers do not spend time developing teachers or looking for them, they do not understand what education is all about and the school will eventually collapse from mediocrity.  Good teachers usually make good tutors and mediocre teachers, mediocre tutors.  A tutor who does not know how to be a good teacher usually does not know how to teach his tutee to be a good student or does so unconvincingly.


            To be a good officer but a negligent teacher is a contradiction in terms.  When faced with a conflict between one’s duties as officer and one’s duties as teacher, we have always said that the latter should prevail.  The former should be passed on to someone else.  The argument that the common good demands the former should prevail is sophistic; using that argument one could indefinitely postpone correcting papers, giving tests or assignments, or even preparing one’s class, and the harm one would do to one’s students and their parents would far outweigh any good the whole school would allegedly benefit from.  The harmful effects of the bad example shown to subordinates can be serious, and I have personally seen officers destroy their reputation before subordinates, students, and parents in this way.  The common good demands that the officer should not neglect





docility of their children.


            [30]I refer to one’s minimum tasks as officer and as teacher.


            [31]That an officer has to omit one of his minimum tasks as a teacher, e.g., to miss a class to attend an important meeting should be exceptional


his teaching task.


            It is but just that Southridge devote its best efforts to the development of its teachers and that it not stint in expenses in this area.  This concern is exceeded in importance only by the concern to inform parents of their responsibilities, but this does not mean that the school should ever stop developing teachers to concentrate on parent activities.  At worst we reduce teachers’ formation activities to the bare minimum.  And if we should ever find ourselves in the terrible fix of having to choose between parent formation and teacher formation?  In such a case, I would advise the latter, because parents will find us convincing when we form them only to the extent that the parents have confidence in us as teachers.  Teachers formation, therefore, is a condition of the effectiveness of parent formation.  What do we do in case of a conflict of student and teacher formation activities?  We recall the PAREF motto: “Teachers second, children last.”


            The teacher must be an example of someone personally struggling to achieve the goals of education.  A teacher indifferent to the goals of education in his own personal life is not a genuine educator.  Ideally, whether or not he be a high school teacher, he should know as much as we except our high school graduates to know.


            The ideal teacher guides his students in the attainment of all goals.  It would be wrong to think of the Southridge teacher as “mainly in charge of” the attainment of one or two goals (e.g., professional skills), while the tutor is mainly in




            [32]What constitutes the minimum teaching tasks of an officer is not for the officer to decide, but the Academic Director, and if an Academic Director has to reduce his teaching tasks to a minimum, he should consult the Associate Director for Academic Standards.


            [33]“Bare minimum” does not mean a “symbolic gesture,” an official “cumplo y miento.”  The “bare minimum” must correspond to what is essentially necessary to achieve the objective sought.


             [34]It may occur to us to dispense a teacher from a teacher formation activity in order to work in a student formation activity (e.g., to head a Catechism Club activity instead of attending a teachers’ workshop); that would be wrong (the teachers who miss workshops normally end up as poor or mediocre teachers).


            [35]This may appear like a stiff requirement, but it is unavoidable.  If we say it is too hard to achieve, we are saying that our high school objectives are unrealistic.  After a teacher has been granted permanence, I would make a program for him to acquire the knowledge and skills we expect from our own students charge of others (e.g., virtue).  All the goals of education are the concern of all teachers and each takes advantage og his subject matter to guide students to these goals.


            Aside from the occasions provided by the subject matter of the subjects that they teach, teachers should be especially sensitive to other “moments” when they can give a good talk related to wisdom or virtue.  I do not refer to Homeroom talks or other such scheduled occasions; I talk of an occasion when a class has to be reprimanded or appealed to, when something has occurred in school or in the country that has caught everyone’s attention.  At that “moment,” the students are vulnerable; they are looking for light for explanations, for guidance.  The talk should not be a “sermon.”  It is best as a personal, spontaneous speech, although there is nothing wrong if one prepares it.  It should not sound like an extension of a class.  If the teacher hears that another teacher has already talked to the class on the same topic, he should forget about the talk he was planning to give.


            Occasions when a teacher is alone with a student or a few of them may be golden opportunities to teach wisdom or virtue.  Sometimes a class night may be such an opportunity.


            Southridge teachers must desire to teach wisdom, virtue.





[36]How would a teacher who does not teach Religion or Philosophy and who is not a tutor teach his students wisdom?  The subject matter of certain subjects—Social Studies, Science, Literature or Reading, and Composition or Writing (what I say about Literature or Reading and Composition or Writing applies equally to English and Filipino) –provides occasions to teach students wisdom through incidental comments or digressions.  To teachers who do not teach any of these subjects, it would say that in general, the way we manage a class or teach a subject, especially our skill in adjusting to our students to help them learn, in itself shows wisdom.  If a teacher is sincerely seeking wisdom, this shows in his comportment, his bearing, and his conversation.

            How would a teacher who does not teach Religion or Philosophy and who is not a tutor teach his studies virtue/  the subject matter of Social Studies, Literature or Reading, and Composition or Writing provides occasions for comments or digressions on virtue.  A teacher teaches virtue above all by personal example and by helping his studies acquire the virtues they need to be good students in his subject.

            How would a teacher who does not teach Social Studies teach patriotism? The subject matter of subjects except Mathematics or Science provides occasions for isolated, well-timed remarks that bespeak patriotism, and as with virtue, a teacher teaches patriotism above all through personal example and patriotism.  Once they desire to do this, they may want to know exactly what to teach.  Aside from classes related to these two goals, informal conversations (e.g., in get-togethers), discussions, and recommended readings help.

The Tutor



All PAREF schools, like their Spanish models, have tutors.  The tutor personalizes the goals of education; he guides students in attaining all of them, although he does spend more time teaching his tutee one of them—virtue.  What distinguishes him from the teacher is the method of education he uses; the teacher educates formally in the classroom; the tutor educates informally through personal conversation.


The tutor should know his tutee well; else, how will he personalize the goals of education?  To be effective, he should win the confidence of his tutee.  In talks and writings on this topic I think I may have said that confidence is the fruit of friendship.  On further reflection, it think it possible for a tutor to have the confidence of his tutee without having to be a friend of the boy, and just as confidence may blossom from friendship, the reverse may also happen.  In fact, I suspect that for a teacher to win the student’s confidence before winning his friendship is more natural than the reverse.  The reason is that one has confidence not only in one’s friends but also in wise men who may not be one’s friends.  It should not be unusual for a student to perceive a teacher as someone wise; if so, it may be more natural for a teacher to win a student’s confidence with a reputation of wisdom and understanding than with friendship.  Afterwards, the student may see the teacher also as a friend.


To “personalize” the goals of education means to ask the three questions:  “Where do we want to go?  Where are we now?




            [37]The school must foster this desire.  When there is no desire to attain a goal, there is no zeal, no struggle, and no sensitivity to the opportunities to advance towards goal.


            [38]Tutors must be trained in the art of conversation.  A good reference book is Adler’s How to Speak, How to Listen.


            [39]I am not saying it is wrong for a tutor to befriend his tutee to win his confidence.


            [40]It is possible, of course, to be someone’s friend and yet not open up to him about certain areas of one’s life.  I have seen this happen in Southridge between tutors and tutees.  “In that case, that person is not a true friend”: such a claim would be naïve and contradicts ordinary human experience.  There are degrees of friendship and there are friends to whom we open up and friends to whom we do not.


How do we get there?  The first question identifies the goals of education; the second identifies the situation of the student vis-à-vis the goals of education; third formulates a plan to reach the goals.  The second and third questions personalize the goals of education.


            The tutor attends particularly to the personalization of the goals of wisdom and virtue.  In this task, he deliberately seeks the help of the student’s parents.  In fact, he works on the premise that the boy’s wisdom and virtue are primarily the concern of the parents and that the parents are the strongest influences in the boy’s development of these.  This does not assume that the parents understand wisdom and virtue philosophically; it is enough, indeed more important, for them to understand these “in the concrete”—as these are manifested in real life.  If his tutee’s parents are totally indifferent to these goals, then the tutor must take the parents’ place as best he can.


            The goals of education related to professional skills are personalized by the teacher.  This doesn’t mean the tutor pays no attention to the acquisition of professional skills; he should, especially when his tutee needs encouragement or a more personal convincing about the utility of these skills.


            Everything said earlier about conflicts between one’s duties as officer and teacher applies as well to the tutor.  And when there are conflicts between one’s duties as teacher and as tutor?  There should be no conflict.  That is why one’s workload as teacher and tutor is figured out before the school year begins.  If a conflict should arise, then teaching and tutorial tasks are reduced to essentials to be able to do both; if the conflict cannot be resolved this way, then someone else should take over either the teaching or the tutorial tasks.


            Tutor-training is as important as teacher-training.  It is more difficult, mainly because the trainer cannot observe the tutor in action.  I suspect training techniques like case discussions and role-playing should be used extensively.  The tutor trainer must be an especially sensitive person who not only knows the character of the tutees of the tutor.  Tutor-training may have to include training in expressing oneself to one’s senior tutor.


            The tutor has the special  role in Southridge of being formally linked to his tutee’s parents in the accomplishment of his task.  He is consequently the best judge as well of the parents’ collaboration with the school.  It is true, of course, that the teacher will often have some idea of the quality of this collaboration based on the student’s work and behavior, but he will not often have the opportunity of confirming this impression through conversations with his student’s parents.  Thus, the teacher should pass on his impressions to the tutor who then verifies them.












The Academic Program


What will the teachers teach?


Southridge follows the academic program specified by the Department of Education, Culture, and Sports (DECS) as to subjects to teach minimum time to teach a subject in a week, and the general subject matter to be taught.  We have always made our own syllabi.  In the beginning, we were much more lax about following the DECS program, determining our own minimum time to teach a subject in a week and the general subject matter to be taught.  That was because we wanted to do things as we thought they should be done, and not because that was what the government demanded.  Once we were sure of what we were doing, we slowly adjusted the academic program to conform as closely as possible to that of the DECS.


We adjusted to the DECS program for two reasons: first, because part of the spirit of Opus Dei which Southridge follows, is not to be an exception, and second, because the decision to follow the DECS as closely as possible in this matter would force us to consider carefully any proposed radical changes in our academic program.  We would not deviate from the DECS program simply out of convenience.  When we have deviated from it, it has been because we thought our deviation to be a much better way of attaining the goals of education.  Even then we have always deviated only within legal bounds.  If there are aspects of the DECS program we do not follow, it is because we cannot yet follow them (e.g., the laboratory requirements or certain time requirements for subjects) or because we should not (e.g., the teaching of population control).


We have always taught subjects which, although not required by the DECS, would, in our opinion, be of particular help to attain goals of education.  Thus, Religion, which is now




            [41]This happens especially with the amount of time a subject should be allotted during the week.  I have always said that we should not be open to the accusation that the reason why a student has failed is because we allotted less time to a subject than the DECS stipulates.


            [42]Private schools, as I understand it, are allowed some

taught under the legal nomenclature of Values Education, has always been taught, even when Values Education was not yet on the official DECS curriculum.  We still teach Latin in high school, even if elective subjects (which Latin used to be) are no longer part of the DECS high school curriculum and even if the students have to stay longer in school.



Teaching Methods


            We have always used the teaching methods we have thought best, whether or not these were suggested by the DECS.  In the beginning these were methods based on a careful study of rational psychology or the teaching methods used in Gaztelueta.  In 1984, certain methods I observed in English schools were introduced.  That same year saw the beginning of the influence of Adler’s Paideia Proposal which has since shaped grade school education in Southridge.  Two years later, ideas from Theodore Sizer’s Horace’s Compromise were introduced in high school.  What Adler was for grade school, Sizer has been for high school.


            We have never been afraid to change syllabus content and pedagogical methods.  Since Southridge is a new school, it is only natural that improvements in its academic program have come fast.  This pace has understandably slackened with the passing of time.  At the moment, we are at the stage of refining both subject matter and methods.  Someone to whom the goals of education and the cognitive structure of the human being are




[43]We can truthfully and proudly say that the Southridge academic program is based on Thomas Aquinas.  Some of Jean Piaget’s insights have likewise proved useful.


            [44]I recall three methods in particular: that writing teachers up to Grade 4 should personally re-write the work of their stuents on the line immediately above their students’ written work; that skills be taught as the fulfillment of a felt need which the teacher creates in his pupil; the “holistic” approach to reality in primary school education.  I left my notes on English primary education with Mr. Luis Salamat.


            [45]The Proposal embodied several insights we had reached independently in the school.  It would be wrong to say we simply adopted Adler’s ideas without much acquaintance with them.  The Paideia News Bulletin continues to be a fertile source of good ideas.


            [46]Many good ideas of Sizer have yet to be implemented.


            [47]Knowing how the human being thinks and how his mind develops through childhood and adolescence is extremely important for the educational planner, particularly for the Associate Director for Academic Standards, the Academic Directors, and very clear would not be afraid to change syllabuses and pedagogical methods.  Someone unsure of his knowledge of these two points should be extremely wary of initiating changes.



The Medium Is the Message


            “The medium is the message”:  the mediocre teacher is often unaware of this, limiting his attention to what he is teaching.  If the development of professional skills is the educational goal especially entrusted to the grade school and high school, then the grade school or high school teacher must never forget that the way he makes students think about the subject matter and work to learn it is as important and, in certain instances, even more important than the subject matter itself.  A teacher is never just teaching a student subject matter; he is also teaching his student how to think, how to learn and how to express himself.  Thus, it is important for the teacher to know what the mind is capable of at a given age to know what to demand of it.


            The Southridge academic program in the light of the goals of education comprehends; subjects that develop professional skills—all subjects, but especially English, Pilipino, Latin, Mathematics; subjects that prepare the student for the acquisition of wisdom—Religion (the study of God).  Social Studies (the study of man), Science (the study of the world), Literature and Values Education (the appreciation of man); a subject that gives the student the knowledge needed to acquire patriotism—Social Studies; subjects that develop talents in students unrelated to intellectual pursuits—Music and the Arts, Work Technology, Physical Education.




Department Heads:  Department Heads should know how the human being thinks (and should be able to relate this knowledge to the subject they are in charge of); Academic Directors, how the mind develops; the Associate Director for Academic Standards should know both.


            [48]As in the case of the physical sciences in high school when the student is not planning to pursue a career in the sciences.


            [49]Hence the frequent reminder to teachers not to be “subject-matter-oriented.”


            [50]I have written at least two papers on this.

            [51]Composition in high school can develop wisdom as well, if the Composition teacher uses the subject to teach the student to reflect.


            [52]The teacher of Religion, Science, and Composition may also help achieve this goal.


            It is important for teachers to see the relation between what they are teaching and the goals of education.  That relation constitutes the value of the subject to the education of the students.  We should resist the temptation to inflate the value of a subject to make it seem to be of equal value as others; that some subjects are more valuable than others in the light of the goals of education is a fact that teachers of less valuable subject must accept.  At the same time, this knowledge should not bring those teachers to teach their subjects half-heartedly: sometimes a student may actually derive more value (i.e., draw closer to the goals of education) from a less valuable subject (like Physical Education) than from a more valuable one (like Religion).  The student can learn how to think in Music in a way he cannot in other subjects.  He can use the particular skills and knowledge of Work Technology to grow in his knowledge and love of God, man, the world, his country and his people.  How he can put these skills and knowledge to that use, however, is something he would have to figure out for himself.  Every subject is potentially a good means for achieving any and all of the goals of education.  No one knows which subject will “speak” to a student.  In the long run the teacher, not the subject, will make the difference; hence, the importance of teaching all subjects well and training all teachers well.





The Tutorial Program


The Tutor and Virtues


            A program of development in virtues has recently been drawn.  Its implementation should be closely monitored.  If it fails, it should be changed, but whatever happens, the circumstances of its formulation should be kept in mind.


            I believe that the thinking which eventually led to the new program was initiated by the observation that it is possible for someone who does not have a specific virtue to appear to have it.  That observation led to closer study of what makes a virtue and how virtues are acquired.  This study in turn led to two further observations.  Previous to the new program, tutors developed whichever virtue seemed best to them, given the circumstances of the child.  We have observed, however, that it is futile to encourage a child to practice a virtue that he has no occasion to practice.  This observation was quickly followed by another; just as some circumstances our students find themselves in are propitious to the development of certain vices, so, too, some other circumstances are propitious to the development of certain virtues.  The new program identifies the virtues which seem propitious to develop as the child advances in age.  The program further recognizes that the tutor in many cases is not the best person to develop particular virtues.  “The best person to develop a particular virtue” is that person, all other things being equal, who has the most opportunities to observe whether the student is practicing a particular virtue or not.  Who that person is differs according to the circumstances the student finds himself in.  The program identifies this person and the virtue he is especially qualified to develop in the child.


            In the new program, the tutor coordinates the efforts of various persons to develop virtues in the child.  He helps parents be systematic in the way they form the child in virtue.



Wisdom and the Tutor


            The development of wisdom is a goal of the tutor.  It is a goal that has been little discussed in the history of Southridge, at least in relation to tutorial chats.


            The tutor must teach his tutee to be wise, to know his own self, to understand others.  He must teach him to be humble, to recognize his talents and limitations, without being vain about the former nor depressed about the latter.  He must teach him how to deal with others and with material things.  He must teach him to be prudent, just, strong, and self-controlled.


            My last statement seems to imply that the wise man is virtuous, and the virtuous man, wise.  “Why then distinguish between the two?  I think it is possible to be wise without being virtuous yet.  The adverb is important.  I don’t think we could call someone who deliberately does not cultivate virtue wise.  To merit being called “wise,” one must at least be struggling to be virtuous; merit being called “virtuous.” One must possess virtues.


            On reflection, teaching high school students wisdom is as important as teaching them virtue.  Why? Because knowledge of the good is a condition of the virtuous act and because an insight into oneself, life, man , the world, or God becomes the tutee’s possession forever, whereas the virtue the tutor helps his tutee to nurture may vanish soon after.  A paper on this topic




[53]High school students may get nuggets of wisdom by the handfuls in their classes and in talks and meditations.  Often, unfortunately, the nuggets given away on these occasions are as pearls as to dogs.  The tutorial chat (like that rare personal conversation between teacher or class adviser and student) is, I would think, still the more effective means.  Receiving the nuggets of wisdom as nuggets of wisdom requires being rightly disposed.  The tutor can easily judge when his tutee is rightly disposed and reach into his purse at that moment (a moment of disappointment or elation of fear or hope) to give his tutee pearls, rubies, diamonds.


[54]I think this means the tutor must teach his tutee to acquire a virtue in such a way that the method for acquiring virtue is burned into his understanding.  Thus, if it should happen that the tutor’s efforts to teach his tutee virtues are should be written.  (I think the virtues would like the tutor to develop in the high school student as specified in the new program for developing virtues are in fact related to wisdom.)  Needless to say, the tutor formation program should include training in the development of wisdom.



The Parent-Tutor Conference


The periodic parent-tutor conference can easily degenerate into a report.  The tutor is responsible for making sure it is a conversation.  The tutor must get the home involved in developing a specific virtue; he must help parents discover whether an attitude of the boy has its roots in the home; he must help them concretize the ways in which a virtue will be developed; above all, he must be fearless, while being at the same time delicate, in pointing out that a parent is at fault for something.  (It is best if he can make this observation come from the parents themselves.)  Thankfully, parents are often never entirely to blame.  Just as often, when a parent is to blame, that parent sees he is and admits it, removing from the tutor the awful task of playing the prophet Nathan.  And always at the end of the conference, everyone has a feeling of joy and relief, the feeling that something has been accomplished, that a step forward has been taken.


It is certainly prudent to inform parents of crises their children are passing through.  Such crises are usually good occasions to grow in wisdom.  But once again the tutor must be careful not to betray the confidence of the boy.


What if a parent has taught his child something morally or doctrinally wrong?  I think that the tutor is morally obliged to




fruitless or that their fruits are blighted soon after the boy’s graduation, the tutee will retain at least the practical knowledge of gaining virtue.


apprise the parent of his error, especially if the child is less than fifteen years old.  If the child is fifteen or older, instead of correcting the parents, especially if it looks as though it may be useless to do so, it may be better for the tutor to teach his tutee what is right and what to do when authority figures are wrong, how one continues to live with or work under them.  What if something is going on at home that hinders or obstructs the development of wisdom? Oftentimes, parents are unaware of it, and so the tutor should inform them.


            The parent-tutor conference is even less often on the child’s patriotism because there is usually nothing to say.  When there is something to say, however, it should be said; otherwise, we may be guilty of downgrading this goal of education.  We shouldn’t forget that in Southridge “patriotism” includes topics like citizenship, social justice, and solidarity.  Many of our parents do not pay too much attention to these matters, so we would in fact be doing the country a favor if we were to bring up these topics.


            Patriotism is not politics.  That distinction is not very clear to many Filipinos.  If we could make that distinction clear to many of our parents, we would be doing our country a huge service.  Parents and tutor should never discuss politics.


            We should point out to parents any situations, conversations, or remarks in the home that could damage the child’s growth in patriotism in case we learn of these.  Many of the things said earlier on conferences on the child’s wisdom apply as well to conferences on the child’s patriotism.



The Difference between Character Formation and Personal Formation


            Talks on virtues have always formed part of the educational program of Southridge.  They are not essential parts of this program, meaning that the academic program and the tutorial program are sufficient to achieve the goals of education.  They play an auxiliary role in the character formation program of the school.  Let me digress at this point to a discussion of the difference between the “character formation program” of the school and its “personal formation program.”


            What do we mean by “character formation”?  “Character formation” means forming the student’s character such that he pursues wisdom and virtue.  Both teacher and tutor work to achieve these; thus, it is understood in contradistinction to academic formation or intellectual formation.




            [55]See previous page.


            The other, older term that “character formation” occasionally replaces is “personal formation.”  “Personal formation” may be understood to refer to the “formation of the person.”  Obviously, the entire education the Southridge student receives constitutes his formation as a person so that there is no term that may be used in contradistinction to “personal formation”; hence, the confusion we noted above with regard to character formation has also arisen with regard to personal formation: the Personal Formation Department has always tended to take over the entire school.


            There is another way, however, of understanding “personal formation”: we may understand it to mean “personal formation.”  This sort of formation would distinguish it from that given by the teacher.  Of course, it is true that we tell our teachers to personalize their instruction, that is, to take into account the individual differences of their students; nevertheless, the teacher’s classes are normally addressed to groups, not to individual persons.  “Personal formation” may be fittingly opposed to “academic formation” understanding by the latter “formation that goes on in the classroom.”


            Can we regard the talks on virtues as part of the “personal formation program” of the school?  Obviously not, since they are addressed to groups; by methodology, they belong to the “academic formation program” of the school.  We can, however, consider the talks on virtues as auxiliary activities of the Tutorial Program insofar as the tutors themselves organize these talks.  Would this not be a deviation from the personalized method of the tutor?  Yes, it would be, but as remedial activities for individual students may be considered “auxiliary activities” of the teachers, so too the talks may be considered auxiliary activities of the tutors.



The Spiritual Formation Program


            The Southridge educational program has three components: the two programs just described and the Spiritual Formation Program.  Two questions occur to me: why have a third component and why give that component the name it has?  Let me answer the second question first.


            Why ask the second question to begin with?  The first two components are named after the educational method used in each program; the third component, after its objective—spiritual formation.  The spiritual formation program uses the methods of the first two: religious instruction is imparted in the classroom; spiritual direction, personally and privately.  In this sense, it falls under the first two.  Thus, religion teachers are




            [56]In the same way, the Values Education classes may be considered as a direct concern of the Tutorial Department.


asked to attend meetings of the academic department, and priests may be asked to attend meetings of the tutorial department.


            This dual nature of the spiritual formation program should be noted.  In the past, the academic department has tended to act as though the spiritual formation department were not part of it; conversely, the spiritual formation department has sometimes acted as though it were not a part of the academic department.  This is not good.  A  Religion Department that operates independently of the academic department risks having poorly trained teachers or ineffective pedagogical techniques or standards that are too low or too high or subject matter that is below or beyond the comprehension level of the students.  Besides, the students immediately notice if Religion classes differ from the rest in classroom rules or grading system or requirements (e.g., homework).


            I think we are slowly moving towards an effective integration of the Religion Department into the academic department.  In fact, everything in the Religion Department, except content, should be submitted to the direction of academic officers.  The Religion Department has always been directed by the chaplain of the school.  The school chaplain, except in one instance, has never been someone trained in pedagogy, and I think the level of instruction in the department has suffered somewhat because of this.  The present chaplain wishes to open the position of Religion Department Head to persons other than the chaplain.  In that case, the chaplain would limit himself to guaranteeing the orthodoxy of subject matter.  This may be better in the long run, particularly when the chaplain is unprepared to shoulder the pedagogical responsibilities of the Religion Department Head.  In the past as well, priests who taught Religion attended teachers meetings and seminars rather irregularly.  Most of the time, this could not be helped as priests in the school also have their commitments to the Opus Dei Prelature.  This has meant, however, that these priests lost good opportunities to improve (and in some cases, to learn) as teachers; they were not able to help fellow teachers with their observations about failing students; and they were not clarified on students doing poorly in their subject.


            I gather some students classify Religion with Pilipino—as a subject that need not be taken seriously.  I do not know how widespread this attitude is nor its origin.  Certainly, I think the same attitude obtained in the school I went to.  Perhaps it originates from our parents.  Whatever the explanation for it, it is certainly unflattering.  I don’t think the reputation of the Religion Department is helped by the policy of not giving any student a failing grade in the subject at the end of the year.  I think that such a policy encourages laziness and conduces to a lack of respect for the subject.  The impression of students that the be-all and end-all of Religion class is to memorize the catechism without bothering too much about understanding it doesn’t do much either for the reputation of the subject.  (The memorization of catechism answers is a legitimate objective of Religion classes.)  I think there is an important difference between adults memorizing the catechism because they know the good it will do to them or children doing so in Sunday catechism classes in the parish church because they want to and students memorizing catechism questions and answers because they do not want to fail a quiz on them the next day.  My experience with adults who went as children to Catholic schools which required them to memorize the catechism is that they hardly retain anything of what they had memorized.  The best among them, however, have a “sixth sense” (Msgr. Escriva called this a “Catholic nose”) of what is right or wrong, about what follows the teaching of the Church and what contradicts it.  in the long run, this is, I think, what we are after in Religion classes: the internalization of a Catholic culture.  Having the children memorize the catechism is one way to achieve this, and I would call it an indispensable way, but I do not think it should ever be the only way.  Religion classes should be rich, ranging over the Old and New Testaments, liturgy, lives of saints, religious customs, Church history, practical problems in prayer, ways to make the most of the sacraments, and moral cases.  If the students in later life do not end up with an infallible recollection of catechism answers, and normally they will not let them at least end up with clear ideas about faith and morals based on memories of other components of Religion class.


            The spiritual formation department is also part of the personal formation department.  This has been clear to us from the start.  As someone who was a tutor for eleven years, I can say though that coordination between the two departments has been minimal.  I have in mind the analysis of students and identifying tutors and spiritual directors.  Perhaps the main reason for the lack of this sort of coordination is that the priests until a few years ago were not able to impart much spiritual direction in the school.  (What a difference spiritual direction made in the lives of so many students when this was finally available on a more or less regular basis.)  Occasionally, we tutors would get messages from the priests; more people at Mass, please, or more people for confession.  Perhaps meetings to see why there were few Mass-goers or few students going to confession would have been more fruitful than messages.  (These meetings should have been called by the tutorial department.)


            Let me answer the first of the two questions I posed at the start of this section:  “Why have a third component of the Southridge educational program?”  I have noted that, from the point of view of pedagogical method, the spiritual formation department is no different from the other two departments.  In that sense it is not a third component of the educational program.  Its name differentiates its activities from all other activities by their objective, implying, it would seem that the other activities are involved in human formation.  In that sense it is not a third component of the educational program, but a second, the first being human formation.


            This little exercise in seeing the relationship of the spiritual formation program to other programs is important to understand the educational program of Southridge.  The latter at times has seemed confusing because the programs which make it up overlap with one another.  The reason for the overlaps is that the Southridge educational program is viewed in two ways: from the viewpoint of pedagogical method and from the viewpoint of subject matter.


            The spiritual formation activities are a feature Southridge shares with Catholic schools.  I would call them the Catholic component of Southridge education.  (The tutorial activities are a feature it shares with other PAREF and PAREF-type schools.  They are the PAREF component, so to speak, of Southridge education.)  These activities to achieve the fourth goal of education.


            The fourth educational goal, I said, is more like a light in which one sees the other three.  Its light is the light of faith.  Spiritual formation in grade school and high school is especially education in the faith (fides quod) and formation in faith (fides qua).  The peculiar relationship of this goal to the others is reflected in the relationship of the three sorts of activities which make up the spiritual formation program (religious instruction, the sacraments and spiritual direction) to all the other educational activities of the student.  The student who takes the spiritual formation program seriously grows in the faith and Christianizes the human formation he is given in the very act of assimilating it.


            The focus on faith is a right way (I wanted to say “the right way”) of going about a Christian education.  The wrong way would be to stress the religious dimension of subject matter, and if the subject matter has none, to impose one on it (like teaching little children mathematics by adding angels and subtracting devils).  This approach to Christian education shows us by implication how it is possible for someone to receive a Christian education as though it were not.  Without faith Religion classes don’t make sense; without faith the Christian meaning of certain subject matters is never grasped.  Thus, it is possible for a student to study in Southridge for eleven years and graduate with honors and awards, but seem not to have received, as far as he is personally concerned, a Christian education.  Southridge education for him would be an education with Christian trimmings.


            Being in the state of grace, then, or at least struggling to he in it is important for Christian education to make sense; hence, the advisability of having the means ti grow in the state of grace or to recover it in the Christian school.  The availability of the sacraments and spiritual direction in the school also means the possibility of cultivating the habits of frequently receiving the sacraments and going regularly to spiritual direction, both key means of spiritual formation.


            In the past, students in Catholic schools were sometimes obliged to attend Mass in school.  They were not obliged to go to Confession, but it was not unusual for students to be brought to the school chapel for a period of time during the week so that they could go to Confession then and there if they wished.  We don’t do this in Southridge.  We persuade students to go to the sacraments or spiritual direction.  This persuasion can come from the Religion teacher, the class adviser, or the tutor, but it has to be done in the right way, without ever applying pressure in any way.


            Needless to say, the child’s dispositions towards the faith are formed at home.  Thus, the tutor has a most important role in spiritual formation, being the only faculty member with direct access, so to speak, to the parents.  When the tutor intends to talk about this in the conference with parents, he should remember that he is seeking supernatural results and should therefore apply supernatural means.  This will mollify any apprehensions he may have that he is meddling.


            Two characteristics of FOMENTO schools mentioned earlier are their fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church and their lay spirituality.  The first is manifest in the Religion classes; the second, in the spirituality taught in Religion classes, meditations, tutorial chats, liturgical services, and spiritual direction.  But for the tutorial chats, all of these are activities of the Spiritual Formation Department, whose importance becomes clear.  A student does not get all he could from Southridge if does not take advantage of all the aspects of the spiritual formation offered him in the school.  Without spiritual formation, the education he receives in Southridge is not what the founding parents wanted it to be.




            [57]What if he receives the sacraments frequently and goes to spiritual direction regularly outside the school?  Then he does not need the spiritual formation the founding parents wanted Southridge to offer.













































            The Southridge academic community is composed of parents, teachers and students.  All of these persons should be united by the desire to achieve the same educational goals.  They are committed, the PAREF philosophy of education.  Their main instruments for achieving the educational goals are the academic, tutorial, and spiritual formation programs.


            Not all applicants can be admitted into this academic community.  People who do not agree with the goals of education, the PAREF philosophy of education, or the academic, tutorial, and spiritual formation programs cannot become members of it.  Often, problems in Southridge arise from ignorance of or indifference to these basic educational features of the school.  The school has to fight the battle, not only of explaining its goals, strategy, and programs, but also of getting the members of the community to play their roles well in the struggle to achieve the goals.


            We respect people’s opinions regarding education, but we also expect them to respect ours.  If a member of the community changes his mind and rejects a school goal or the school strategy or an aspect of the school’s educational programs, then that person should leave Southridge.  That is the reasonable thing to do.  Does that mean that the school goals or educational strategy or programs cannot be questioned?


            The educational goals cannot be questioned, for reasons explained earlier, though it is possible to question our interpretation of the goals of education.  The interpretation of the goals of education is a job of philosophers and educators, not of parents just because they are parents nor of Board members just because they are Board members.  Several legitimate interpretations may, of course, be made.  In that case, the Board of Trustees choose among these, and their choices prevails.


            The PAREF philosophy of education cannot be questioned.  It is what makes PAREF schools what they are.  Again, the interpretation of that philosophy may be questioned.  The interpretation of the PAREF philosophy of education is a job of educators who are familiar with the PAREF school models.  Obviously, these people, at least in the Philippines, are few.  Since the philosophy of education comes from Msgr. Josemaria Escriva, those who are familiar with Msgr. Escriva’s thought may help, but educators should have the last say.  By “PAREF-school models,” I do not refer only to schools in Spain.  There are other schools in other countries that follow the same philosophy.  Southridge, in fact has been somewhat influenced by the Heights School (Virginia, USA).  The way schools are is determined as much by the culture of the people they are serving as by its goals and strategy.  Philippine schools cannot be a clone of Spanish schools or schools of any other country.  Thus, when I say that educators should have the last say, I refer especially to educators familiar with Philippine culture.  What I said earlier about multiple legitimate interpretations applies here.


            The Southridge academic program may be questioned to a certain extent.  Those aspects of it which are actually determined by the DECS may be questioned only at the level of the DECS.  Those determined by PAREF (e.g., that all teachers should be male) may be questioned only at the level of PAREF.  Those that are not determined by the DECS or PAREF may be questioned in Southridge itself.


            The school’s academic program should have come form PAREF.  That was not and continues not to be possible.  Thus, the job of formulating the program was designated to the first Management Staff of Southridge.  Any questions about the academic program should be addressed to the Management Staff.  At present, those questions will be referred to the Academic Council; in most cases, that council, not the Management Staff has the authority to answer them.


            Why not the Management Staff?  Questions about the academic program should be answered by educators in Southridge.  By “educator” is meant sensu stricto someone who has studied Education or, or in default of this, has extensive experience in technical aspects (e.g., curriculum development or theories of test construction) of education.  (“Educator” is not necessarily synonymous to “teacher.”)  It is practically impossible to guarantee that the majority of the Management Staff will be educators.  We foresaw this as early as 1984.  the dangers of such situation are obvious are obvious: decisions with a serious impact on education may be made by persons with little or no experience in education.  Thus, in 1985 or 1986, the Academic Council was constituted.


            The Academic Council was originally composed of the oldest teachers in Southridge, one representing the primary school, a second the intermediate school, and a third the high school, under the chairmanship of the officer then called the Associate Director for Academic Formation.  At present, it is composed of




            [58]At present, only two of the members of the Management Staff are educators in the strict sense of the word.


 the Academic Directors of the school under the Associate Director for Academic Standards.  This body was conceived of as a body that would formulate academic policies.  These policies were subject to the approval of the Management Staff, which would normally approve their recommendations so long as the policies were formulated following proper procedures and so long as these did not go against the spirit of the school or hamper in any way the personal formation program of the school.  In this way, we thought we would avoid blunders from the Management Staff in matters of pedagogy.


            For this reason, then, questions about the academic program are referred to the Academic Council.  Are there instances in which they may be answered by the Management Staff?  Yes, when the questions involve the fidelity of the program to the spirit of the school or its compatibility with the personal formation program.  If there is a question the Academic Council cannot answer, then the persons who formulated the academic program of Southridge should be consulted viz., myself (I was its main author), Dr. Antonio Torralba; or Mr. Manuel Escasa.


            The Southridge tutorial program may be questioned to a certain extent.  Certain aspects of it are determined by PAREF; those should be questioned at the PAREF level.  Others may be questioned in Southridge.  These questions should be directed to the Management Staff, which will refer them to the Personal Formation Council.


            Are there questions which the Management Staff answers?  Yes, those involving the fidelity of the program to the spirit of the school.  Questions involving the compatibility of the program with the academic program of the school should be referred to the Academic Council.  And if there are questions no one can answer?  Then those who took part in the formulation of the program through the years should be asked.  These persons, in number of years of work in the school are: myself, Dr. Torralba, Mr. Julius Nazareno, Mr. Bonifacio Belen, and Mr. Conrad Ricafort.


            The separation of parents, teachers, or students from Southridge is always a delicate matter, and we should take




            The Personal Formation Council was organized in 1988 following the model of the Academic Council, but not for the same reasons.  At present, in Souhtridge we do not recognize any so called “technical aspects” of personal formation.  Unlike Education, personal formation is not a profession.  (The profession which comes closest to it is that of the Guidance Counsellor.)  We have never seen the need, therefore, of forming a “technical committee” on personal formation.  The Personal Formation Council was formed to lessen the work of the Management Staff.


extreme care to treat everyone fairly when the question of his separation comes up.  In general, the circumstances of a person’s separation from Southridge are kept confidential if these may in any way tarnish the reputation of persons; only the minimum information is released, even at the cost of speculations damaging to the school.  If necessary, a little more information may be given privately to select individuals.  The release of this information must be cleared with the Management Staff.  Since knowledge of a person’s separation may prove demoralizing only those who need to know are informed of it.







            [59]Or with the Level Council.








1.  Someone who has taught many years is not necessarily a good teacher.  He may have all the bad habits of Philippines teachers we have been avoiding in Southridge since 1979.  We must be careful about asking a teacher to leave his post in another school, as we may find ourselves in the embarrassing position of not wanting to keep him after his first year in Southridge.



2.      The advantage of hiring an inexperienced teacher is that he does not have bad habits to undo.  It seems best to hire a teacher with a few years of experience, e.g, three, not more.


3.  There is nothing wrong with deliberately seeking out a teacher and convincing him to teach in Southridge, if one is sure of the quality of his teaching skills.  Needless to say, a teacher thus sought out does not have to undergo the interviews or demonstration classes applicant teachers undergo.


4.  Never hire a teacher whose spoken English is bad.  Ideally, his spoken English should be perfect, but Filipinos who speak English perfectly are getting rarer.  Often we will have to tolerate a certain amount of imperfection in English.  There is no rule about this.  Boners in basis grammar (e.g.; no subject-verb agreement) are intolerable; so is wrong pronunciation if






            When we began Southridge, we understood we had to establish a school which would be revolutionary in the Philippines in many ways.  One of these involved teachers.  The teacher today is not a well-respected professional.  Teaching is a profession one enters after failing at others.  We were, in 1979, all too aware of the many pseudo-teachers we had encountered in school—teachers who did not speak English well, who would mouthed what was in the textbook, pale personalities of limited culture who didn’t really care if their students learned, who would take naps after lunch and sell clothing material in their spare time, who were subservient to their superiors and would today to parents.


            I sought out Mr. Severino Estrera and Mr. Manuel Escasa, and I have never regretted it.  I believe I sought out Dr. Raul Nidoy as well many years ago.  I sought out Dr. Erik Santos.  No regrets about these two as well.

this is pervasive.


5.  Never hire a teacher whose demonstration class is unsatisfactory on the grounds that “he might improve.”  If he does not, we’re in trouble.


6.  Never hire a teacher who is unsatisfactory in interviews or demonstration classes merely because “we need teachers.”  Such teachers are the source of headaches, and there is something unethical about hiring a teacher who we know will not do a good job.  After a few bad experiences with such teachers, we now follow the principle, “Better to have the problem of too much work for a few good teachers than the problem of having many poor or mediocre teachers.”


7.  If we begin the school year with less teachers than we planned for, then we adjust. We never overload people.  We lessen the time for classes or reduce tests and homework to the minimum or lessen the frequency of meetings.


8.  We don’t hire effeminate teachers.  A certain amount of mannerisms may be tolerated.  The tolerability of an applicant’s mannerisms must be agreed on by the interviewers.


9. We don’t hire teachers whose privately lives or personal beliefs contradict what we teach in Religion classes.


10.  It is extremely risky to hire someone who switched from course to course in college or from job to job after graduation.  This is normally indicative of an unstable personality.  The few such we have hired have never lasted; in fact, they have trouble lasting just the school year.


11.  Never hire someone who as early as the interview already shows himself stubborn and indocile.  He will give his superiors problems.


12.  Do not be overly impressed by an applicant’s grades in school, whether positively or negatively.


13.  Good teachers are not discovered in interviews or demonstration classes.  They are discovered after the second year of teaching (the bad ones after the first year).




            Once we hired a teacher whose grammar and syntax were almost flawless but who had a strong regional accent.  He was assigned to the high school.  We had trouble from the first week.  The students made fun of his pronunciation and refused to respect him.


            The official limits on the work load are the boundaries within which we plan the work to be done in the school.


14.  Do not be quick to hire someone who used to teach in Southridge.  Find out why he stopped teaching.  Do not assume it was to take on a non-teaching job in the school.  He may have been offered the non-teaching job because he was found unfit to teach.


15.  Begin looking for new teachers as early as November and begin interviewing them no later than April.




16.  If teachers are not well paid, or if they are overworked, I don’t think we should expect them to do their best.  The struggle for good wages and a decent work load in Southridge has been part of the struggle to raise the standards of teaching.  The third and crucial step in this struggle was the institution of personalized teacher-training.


17.  Personal training always works, except when there is no potential to begin with; when we realize that, we do not rehire the teacher.  Training through talks, classes, or workshops may work, but ensure effectivity they should be followed by coaching in actual work.


18.  Training is different from mere observation.  The latter is the first step of training, a first step which includes the post-observation conference.  Training begins after this first step, when the trainer identifies a goal the teacher should work to achieve and concretizes the manner in which the teacher will try to achieve that goal.  Training continues until that goal is achieved.  It means continuing to observe the teacher and give feedback.  It means changing the means to achieve the goal for more effective ones.


19.  Teacher-training is like teaching a student to write.  One doesn’t impose a style.  One helps the teacher discover his own style, his own solutions to problems.  The trainer must know how to “get into” the personality of the teacher, must know his strengths and weaknesses, his likes and dislikes.  He must know how to muster the teacher’s strengths and likes will be the source of his creativity.  He must help the teacher overcome or at least neutralize his weaknesses and dislikes.  He must bring out the teacher’s latent possibilities.  The trainer must be patient.  He must be firm.  He must tell the teacher the truth, whether or not it hurts.  He must be understanding.




20.  We have always demanded high standards of teaching.  The tuition the students pay and the salaries we pay our teachers demand nothing less than this.  I personally found it difficult to tolerate teaching which deformed, even if in subtle ways (which are usually more dangerous), rather than formed minds, and if one appreciates the goals of education, less than high standards of teaching are unacceptable.


21.  For teachers being trained, the formal evaluations are records of their performance status at a given moment.  Thus, it is important to write down observations that may have already been noted down in observation reports.  It is not necessary to write down all of one’s observations; the most basic ones are sufficient.


22.  Be precise.  Go straight to the point.  Call a spade a spade.  Do not let fear of hurting the teacher’s feelings inhibit you from writing what must be written.  It is much harder to fire a teacher who has never gotten a hint of his defects.


23.  Don’t play around with evaluations, using it as a tool to encourage people.  AN EVALUATION IS NOT MEANT TO BOOST MORALE.  It is a mirror of one’s performance.  Once a person discovers that you are not really rating him as he should be rated, he will have a hard time trusting the objectivity of future ratings and I’m not referring to people who get a low rating unfairly.  Don’t give teachers the impression that a high rating is a matter of sycophancy or of tantrums.


24.  If you feel an evaluation may be badly received, it is best to hand it personally to the teacher.  I found it convenient to inform him first of his evaluation and ask him to react to it.  Hand over the evaluation to him after the conversation, assuming there is no reason for you to change your mind.  If you decide to change the evaluation or think about it some more, then don’t return the evaluation.


25.  If a teacher disagrees with your evaluation, do not interpret his disagreement as insubordination.  Consider the reasons for his disagreement seriously.  Meet him personally.  Hear his side.  Explain yours.  If you should change your evaluation, then do so.  Do not feel obliged to come to a decision when you meet, but reach a decision soon after.


26.  The way an officer evaluates his subordinates is an important consideration for retaining or removing the officer.


27.  When making evaluations, it is always good to identify a point to improve in during the succeeding evaluation period.


28.  Using evaluations to win loyalty should be grounds to remove an officer from his post.


29.  An officer who gives unfairly high evaluations will have a tough time removing a subordinate, precisely because of the high evaluations.  It wont do to say, “I didn’t really think you were good, I just wanted to give you a chance.”


30.  At the end of the year, the teacher and his evaluator should agree on what he should fight to improve in the following year.


If he does improve in this point the following year, ordinarily he should get at least a Good.  His getting lower than this inspite of having improved should be exceptional (e.g., for having struck a boy or never given a unit test).




31.  We do not hesitate to dismiss a teacher rated Poor.  If necessary, he is dismissed in the middle of the school year.  In such a case, we must ask ourselves how he got hired to begin with.


32.  In the past, we have dismissed teachers in the middle of the school year who arrive habitually late or who are frequently absent whether or not there are good reasons for their tardiness or absence.  The reason for this is that their tardiness or absence is a continual source of disorder in the school that hampers both teaching and learning and breeds discontent among parents and fellow teachers.


33.  Do not hesitate to dismiss a teacher who has rated Fair for two consecutive years.  We used to tolerate teachers with a rating of Fair, but they were the source of subtle defects in the students’ learning that we would later have to grapple with.  At the same time, we found ourselves discontented year after year with the same deficiencies in the teacher.  We realized that we were tolerating them only to avoid what we thought was a worse problem—not having enough teachers.  In fact, we were only replacing one problem with another, and each year the Fair teacher lasted in the school, the harder it became to justify dismissing him.  Finally, we learned and formulated the principle enunciated at the start of this number.


35.  I cannot think of any exception to no. 34 except the following: a teacher is assigned to teach classes in high school in his first year in a subject that is not his competence.  The next year he teaches in a subject of his competence and still does Fair, but shows definite signs of improvement.  The Academic Director may decide to discount his first year in Southridge, since the teacher was assigned to teach a subject that was not his competence.  In the past, teachers who rated Fair were tried in different subjects or in different grade levels; results, however, remained the same; Fair..  In the end, we formulated the following principle: it is useless to see if a teacher will improve by changing his teaching assignment.  The exception is that mentioned at the start of this number.


36.  NEVER retain teachers who rate a Fair for two years on the grounds that he is a good tutor or class adviser.  I put the adverb in capitals because the reasons for retaining them are seductive, and in the past we surrendered to their charms to our regret.  The good they can do as tutors or class advisers does not outweigh the subtle harm they can do as Fair teachers, not to mention the sorrow they cause their Academic Director year after year.  Besides, sooner or later these teachers suffer a professional crisis, because they know they are not good teachers and they also know that being a tutor or class adviser cannot be a profession.  I have seen this happen.


37.  Do not retain a teacher who is disloyal, the source of covert criticism and intrigue, no matter how brilliant or effective he may be as a teacher.  We have learned this lesson painfully.


38.  Do not retain teachers who do not know how to discipline their students, no matter how intelligent they may be.  Do not retain teachers who cannot win their students’ respect.


39.  We should strive to convince good teachers to make teaching their profession.  If they do not want to then let us convince them to stay as long as they can; each year they spend in school is an additional opportunity to enamor them of teaching.


40.  The only reasons worth giving to convince a good teacher to make teaching his profession are the goals of education.  It seems stupid to have to affirm this but TEACHERS SHOULD.  BE COMMITTED TO THEN GOALS OF EDUCATION.  There are so many who are not.  They teach for money and become a source of discontent.  They teach “because they have the talent to” and become proud and vain and overbearing.  Do not promise a teacher wealth, not even peace of mind.  Let him know how difficult a teacher’s life is, but let him know as well how fulfilling it is.  If he has a true teacher’s heart, he will understand the latter and know it is worth more than a comfortable bourgeois life.


41.  Give the beginning teacher time to fall in love with the profession.  Do not ask for a lifetime commitment from him at once.  Ask him to stay on one more year, a fourth, a fifth.  In the meantime, nurture his love for the profession, which will normally be put to the test, not by difficulties in teaching, but by his relations with his superiors or peers.  Teach him how to handle these.  He will himself undergo the different natural shocks that a fellow in his twenties is heir to; he is maturing.  Help him sail through these moments.





42.  The principal of a school in Spain told me, “Don’t hire anyone applying to teach who asks about his salary.”  That sounds a mite harsh.  A teacher applicant has every right to ask about compensation in Southridge, although I do not really recall any who has ever asked me about that.  Nevertheless, what that gentleman said had a grain truth: someone who teaches for money will never make a good teacher.


            The few teachers I have known who were interested mainly in money never lasted in spite of the good salary we would pay them.  No salary is good enough for someone after money.  The sort of teacher I fear most is the one who is after money, but feels he cannot get it somewhere else other than Southridge, and so stays on but tries his best to get as much money as he can from the school.  Such a teacher complains often about his pay, even if objectively speaking it is good.  He quickly forgets about benefits he is receiving and instead only thinks of more he serving the school, but another way of getting more pay.  He is critical of the administration: he backbites; and he is the source of intrigue.


School work being what it is, it is impossible to say that a teacher will never have to work more than eight hours a day, teacher must be ready to do this, and usually without extra pay. Such occasions are not usually frequent, but they occur, and normally these occasions are not demanded of him by the school.


One conclusion from the preceding reflections is the following: high salaries may help us keep our teachers, but they are a form of poison if they convince our teachers to stay for the wrong reason.


43.  What sort of salary should a teacher get? We have always told our teachers the truth: their work is priceless. Who would dare put a price on the wisdom, the virtue, the patriotism, or even the good professional skills that a student acquires through the help of his teacher? And so we do not pay a teacher according to his work, because then we would not be able to afford him; we pay him enough so that he can live according to a certain level of comfort. That level of comfort has never been set. Perhaps now is the time to set it. Mr. Julius Nazareno used to say that our teachers should be able to live in a house furnished in such a way that they would not be ashamed to show it to the parents of their students.  I would say they should be able to afford to buy books, records, and tapes and watch plays and concerts.


44.  In principle, the salary is something a teacher should never have to worry about; else it would affect his work.  It is also something officers should not have to worry about with regard to their subordinates; otherwise it absorbs all their energies.  Thus, in Southridge, from the very start, salaries were the specific concern only of the Business Manager and the head of the school.


45.  We have tried to establish a “meritocracy” in Southridge reflected in the merit increases teachers receive.  We have tried to create the following mentality:  “If I want to get paid better, I have to work better.”  I do not think all our teachers have this mentality yet but at least up to my last year in the school, I felt we were slowly getting the teachers to think that way.


46.  Overtime work in Southridge has never been allowed but for very exceptional reasons.


47.  We have never paid honoraria for work the school has asked teachers to do within the forty-four hours a week they are supposed to work for the school.  Tutorial assignments and the class adviser’s work have always been seen as part of the forty-four hours.  Tutors and class advisers have a lighter teaching load than others.


48.  Since three years ago, we have tried to determine a just workload for teachers to avoid overburdening them.  One of the gravest responsibilities of the school officer is to make sure that his subordinates are not overworked.







            This practice was reversed in School Year 1990-91 during the first year of my study leave.  Be that as it may, I have not changed my mind about honoraria and mention it specifically in these notes so that in the future people who wish to abolish them may know that they are actually contemplating a return to what used to be practiced during the first twelve years of Southridge.  I have written down elsewhere the reasons of the first Management Staff for their opposition to honoraria.