• Charles Farrugia

5. Are they EDUCARE or EDUCERE Graduates?

5. Are they EDUCARE or EDUCERE Graduates?

How important is the answer to the above question? It is very important to recognise the fundamentals in our children’s education journey or enterprise. If we do not understand these basic principles, we cannot recognise what teaching and learning really involve. We will be unable to distinguish between excellent or mediocre or poor schooling.

But first, let me tell you about my Primary and Secondary School years to discover whether they were any different from yours and your children’s. Do not be misled by today’s classroom interactive white-boards, tablets and computers, they are peripheral items.

My fellow students and I were bombarded with information, facts, dates and numbers. We were required to learn these by heart. We regurgitated the facts and figures in class, at the next test or examination. Creativity, initiative and ingenuity were of secondary importance. Scholastic success was measured on the extent of memorisation rather than understanding.

The underlying principle of this teaching method stands on the belief that the more information students accumulate, the more equipped they became to deal with live situations or with problems they will encounter later on in life.

Educare = To form

In this mode, students are required to learn the multiplication tables to cope with mathematical problems in long-division and long multiplication computations. These practices persist today even though the electronic calculator on our children’s smart-phone will provide results more quickly and accurately. We learnt by heart the Ten Commandments to keep us on the straight and narrow, even if at that age none of us contemplated having a wife or a husband let alone somebody else’s.

Like us, today’s students still build up their foreign language vocabulary, manipulate verb conjugations (I am, You are, He/She/It is, We/ You/They are.) cope with compound words, phrases, clauses and sentences. Yet, they seldom have the opportunity to converse with a native speaker to practice the language. Do you see similarities with your and your children’s schooling?

This type of teaching is based on the belief that the word ‘education’ derives from the Latin origin EDUCARE, meaning “to shape or to form”. The analogy is that of the artist who, with clay, builds up a model piece by piece to create a mould from which a statue is cast.

On this principle, the Educare scholars believes that students are moulded into responsible and knowledgeable citizens by being infused and urged to acquire the right information, skills and attitudes. This will lead to a fruitful, trustworthy and moral life. These educators believe that when faced with a problem, individuals will utilise the knowledge, skills and values they had learned at school to find solutions. If they are tempted to steal or cheat, they recall that the Ten Commandments prohibit them to do so. If they want to measure the area of a room, remembering the formula area = breath x length will provide them with the right answer. And if they forget the formula?

The Educare approach has benefits but not lasting ones. Because it is based on information gathering and memorisation. It neglects the fact that in today’s world, knowledge and skills change rapidly and grow exponentially. Memorisation has limited value when change is rapid and continuous.

An Alternative Method?

Geometry and Algebra did contribute to my problem-solving abilities, and I came to love History especially when I understood that history repeats itself. I now appreciate that the teachers of these three subjects lay greater stress on comprehension, association of ideas to real life situations and problem-solving than to memory work. In fact, I now realise that the latter teachers did not subscribe to the Educare root of the word Education. They believed in the Educere approach.

More about the Educere approach in next blog.

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