In search of a nuanced understanding of Filipino philosophy of education

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Similar to ongoing discussions about the existence of Filipino philosophy, questions remain whether there is indeed a Filipino philosophy of education or not. Several scholars have sought an authentic Filipino philosophy of education that is untouched by colonization, while others have acknowledged that foreign influence cannot be taken away from the different aspects of being Filipino including their philosophy of education. Additionally, some scholars have criticized the coloniality that is evident in the nation-state’s perspectives on education, whereas others have recognized the contributions of Western thoughts in shaping the discourse on Philippine education. The general education curriculum recently mandated by the Commission on Higher Education of the Philippines for undergraduate students, for instance, displays these opposing views. Its emphasis on progressive education and social reconstruction clearly shows the pervading influence of John Dewey on Philippine education. Such articulations on the purpose of Philippine higher education by the nation-state, on the one hand, can be construed as ‘un-Filipino.’ On the other hand, they can mean ‘Filipinization’ of the Philippine higher education, which involves appropriating Deweyan philosophy of education to suit the local context and to render the curriculum more responsive to the needs of the Filipino people amidst a rapidly globalizing world. Both viewpoints are relevant in offering a nuanced understanding of the Filipino philosophy of education. The former challenges us to reflect on what constitutes the Filipino identity, whereas the latter urges us to unravel the vestige of coloniality in the prescribed curriculum to bring out its ‘Filipino-ness.’