Crystal, Joy


 by Joy L. Crystal



     Along with the increasing power of technology that provides a wide access to information around the world, it becomes  even more necessary that educational institutions strengthen the capabilities of learners for reflection, critical thinking and creativity in order to assure a thorough processing – assimilation, integration and application, of knowledge. Schools must turn out graduates who are more enlightened and oriented to the truth about what is happening in the society as well as appreciative of their essential roles in social transformation. To say the least, no person can ever take part in making changes in society when he is blinded by the distortions of realities around him. Schools must serve as  havens of truth. Teachers, on the other hand, must take part in unearthing hidden information for them and for their students by adapting teaching strategies that help young people develop the skills for meaningful inquiry about the relevance of what they are learning to the actual conduct of life and to what is happening in the world. In the light of the foregoing, the author of this paper presents a teaching strategy called “Five-Point Guide” that is expected to touch the learners' thirst for relevance, truth and creativity. The formulation of this teaching strategy is the fruit of the author's experience, enlightenment, reflection, and insights gained in Mediated Economics Course. It could be said that the “Five-Point Guide” is but a pedagogical implication of the course both in its content and in the process it generated within the author's mind and heart. 

     As a teaching strategy, the “Five-Point Guide” or the P5   intends to train students to be aware, reflective and critical. It encourages them to go beyond the limited boundaries of traditional definitions and interpretations of a specific reality; to broaden their perspectives; and connect what they are learning to human nature and to the meaning of human existence. It consists of five major topics or major questions serving as an outline for the class discussion of any reality, such as the poverty, environmental destruction or the world of economics.

Relevance of Traditional Definitions and Theories

     Students must be guided to critique traditional definitions or interpretations of realities such as the world of economics. This may include rediscovering original meaning of terms that was lost through the years with the advent of more dominant thoughts. Dejillas (2nd semester, SY2003-04) in his first lecture challenged the traditional definition of economics and suggested that a broader perspective on it could provide more meaningful approaches to address existing economic problems. Accordingly to him, there is more to simply defining economics as a science that deals with allocation of scarce resources in order to meet the basic needs of the individual, family or society. Going back to the etymology of economics (oikos=household and nomos=management). Dejillas notes that the original meaning is therefore household management- a term that encompasses several affairs directly affecting the welfare of the family or nation. This means to say that household management as it was used among the Greeks is not only money matter but instead involves all other matters that maybe familial, cultural (values and beliefs), social and political in nature. Moreover, the more encompassing definition of economics as household management means that the mediators of economic transaction are not only money but other variables such as power, values, customs and religious beliefs. The definition of economics as household management also renders questionable the focus on income, profit, productivity, consumption, expenditures, demand, supply, prices, GNP, inflation, foreign trade, exchange rate,etc. - all quantifiable measures usually in monetary terms. As forwarded by Dejillas, the other aspect of human life must enter into the realm of economics if the prevailing problems would be effectively addressed. In his book “The Great Transformation,” Karl Polanyi

(1944) opposed the arguments of market liberalism that promotes the compartmentalized definition of economics as mainly supply and demand, capital, profit and all quantifiable commodities. In the article “Basic Elements of Human Economy”, Hilkka Pietila points to the limitations of the traditional theory of economics. She presents a more comprehensive view of economy embodied in what she calls as “Human Economy” consisting of 3 elements - cultivation, household and industrial economy. The Pietila model of economics recognizes the role of women, dignified lifestyles, sustainable livelihood, care for the environment and attention to the other indicators of productivity unaccounted for by statistical measurement.

Multidimensional Perspectives

     Going beyond the traditional definitions and interpretations allow students to discover the different angles of a specific reality and enables them to see it more critically from various perspectives. We can begin looking at the multidimensional character of money as discussed by Dejillas (2001:146).  Looking at the factors influencing the development of money, he demonstrates that money is multidimensional in the sense that is has economic, social, cultural and religious roots. Moreover, money has a political aspect, too, because it influences the balance of power not only between nations but also between and among classes in society. In his review, Dejillas cited Armand Van Dormael, R. Davies, and Milton Friedman as some of the authors who commented on the influence of money in politics and history specifically on the role money plays on issues involving power, control and freedom in a country and in the world. The broader definition, as previously discussed, shows that economics is a multidimensional reality. Economics, that is traditionally a field solely for economist who are oriented to the rigors of mathematics, becomes a concern of educators, ecologist, sociologist, psychologist and religious groups. Economics is now open to opinions and critique of professionals from other sciences. Reviewing several new alternative paradigms that have emerged in the past two decades propounded by social scientist who realized the limitations and inadequacies of today's theories and models in transforming social realities, Dejillas (2001: 165) constructed his own new alternative monetary paradigm. It consists of six dimensional categories in vertical view and another set of six categories in horizontal view. The six dimensional categories making up the vertical view of the new monetary paradigm present the different dimensions of the monetary system. The integrated and interrelated nature of the categories demands that they be treated simultaneously. This means, for example, that the use and orientation of money and the determination of its supply and demand levels need to be viewed in all the categories. According to Dejillas, the horizontal dimension of the new paradigm intends to show that each of the six categories must be viewed simultaneously within the context of their combined impact on growth, stability and equity. There is an emphasis on consideration of the integration and interrelations of factors that affect human life. Consequently, policy implications become a product of the interacting influence between and among the variables defined in both the vertical and horizontal dimensions of the new paradigm.

A  New Alternative Paradigm for Viewing and Transforming Today's Monetary System (Dejillas, 2001:174)







Policy Implications





































     According to Dejillas (January 23, 2004 Lecture) the concept of globalization is similarly a multidimensional reality even if traditionally, it is viewed mainly as an economic phenomenon. He defines it as “a process through which finance and investment as well as production and marketing are dominated by firms whose actions are not confined by national borders or national interests”. Globalization is also described as a political process because it involves struggle for world power and dominance. It is, likewise, a cultural process because the products and service available in the market carries with them certain forms and types of transactions or exchanges that reflect a kind of relations between the producers and consumers. Ultimately, the process affects the behavior and culture of people and this may be reflected in the way they dress, talk and perceive. Describing globalization as an educational process, Dejillas points to its effects on the course offerings and curricula as schools respond to the demands of industrialization. As a religious process, globalization is viewed as responsible for the growth and dominance of the major world religions. Globalization has ecological component, too, shown in the use of the countries natural resources -seas, lands, forests, etc, by the multinational corporations. Thus globalization is also an ecological process.

Connection to Human Nature and Human Existence

     The author of this paper believes that the lack of holistic understanding of the nature of human being gives rise to ineffective management of individual and collective life. Such a limitation can be likened to a kind of blindness that may be passed on from leaders to followers from government to its people, from parents to children, from teachers to students, from preachers to followers and, if unaverted due to a lack of reflection and transformation, may run through and through from one generation to the next. The lack of integration of the leaders of a country or the main players of the economy creates nothing but a threatening vicious cycle of deepening fragmentation and disintegration of humans and societies. Thus, it is but necessary that the task of education is primarily to help students to develop the practice of being conscious and aware of how a certain reality impacts on people's life. Specifically, they must be guided to reflect on whether a specific reality affirms human identity or whether it makes a person and a community of persons closer and closer to their natural capabilities.

      Fr. Xabier Gorostiaga (1998:15) describes the economy as like a champagne glass where the wide mouth of the glass represents the first 20 % (richest people) of the entire world population receiving 81.7 % of the world's total income. As the glass narrows down to the bottom, it shows the second 20 % of the total world population receiving 11.0 % of the world's income; the third 20 % receiving 2.3. %; the fourth 20% receiving 1.9 %; and the 5th and last 20 % of the total world population receiving 1.4. % of the world's total income. This scenario that depicts a great imbalance in income distribution may powerfully stimulate the students to ask and reflect on what is wrong in the society and what other wrongs in society could possibly generate from it. They may further question whether such a condition brewing with extreme excess on one end and abject deprivation on the other still pictures a society of human beings, civilized so to speak.

    Considering the scenario of extreme richness and dehumanizing poverty, students may reflect on two points. First, students may ask what is wrong in the economic model. The second inquiry may focus on what is wrong with the main players of the world economy. Dejillas cited  the comment of  Dr. Mina Ramirez on the presence of an anomaly in the money system from which rose “organized greed, widening gap between the rich and the poor, between the urban and rural areas, between the one-third world and the two-third world” (2001:164). He also pointed out that there is, indeed, something wrong in the creation, use and circulation of money and that there is control and distortion in allocating and appropriating money. Furthermore, money has not been oriented towards man's total development. Speaking on the effects of money on people, Dejillas explains that it has spawned the rise of values and attitudes that are personalistic, exploitative and destructive to life and to our environment. Elaborating on this, he says that these are the values and attitudes which existing models of today's monetized economy generated. In addition to this, commenting on the destructive forces inherent in free market economy, Edney asserts that “scarcity is what people do to people (n.d.: ¶ 32).

     The second point of reflection at this phase focuses on what is wrong with the main players of economy - those who are in power to control and distort the allocation and appropriation of money. Reich  explains that the “superrich live in a parallel universe to the rest of the country much of the time we don't see them because they live in walled estates travel in private limousines and use different airports from the rest of us” ( 1991:16). Galvin comments that there are now more than 200 billionaires (2000:122). The author of this paper agrees that, attitude wise, the heart of the problem lies in greed. Edney defines greed as the “acquisition of a desirable good by one person or a group beyond need, resulting in the unequal distribution to the point that others are deprived (¶ 36). Childs adds that “in practice, greedy individuals hoard both wealth and power” (n.d.:24). Based on the “Seven Centers of Consciousness” by Ken Keyes (n.d.:44), greedy people operate at the lower centers which are driven by survival motives.

     As Keyes explains, there are people who will never have enough power to be continuously happy and fulfilled because “the experience of enoughness only starts as one begin to generate  one's consciousness more and more from the fourth center which he calls  the love center”. Implicitly, greedy people see people as objects to dominate and manipulate. They don't feel compassion for the suffering because they are preoccupied with the business of amassing power and wealth. They have insatiable yearning for what Edney calls as “money happiness” (¶ 68). Unfortunately, as Ryan and Deci say, increases in personal wealth do not bring increased happiness and the more people focus on financial and materialistic goals the lower their feelings of well-being (2001:52). Consequently, the manipulation of the economy by the greedy results to control of governments, destruction of cultures and play up of mass media so that consumerist attitude creeps into everyone's lifestyles, thus rendering more and more people unsatisfied with what they have. The manipulative advertisements create among people unending needs and wants to never have enough.

     As it appears, the personalistic, materialistic and consumerist attitudes of the manipulators also get incarnated among those whom they manipulate. Educators must serve as instruments to make people in general and students in particular aware of the motives by which advertisements operate so they can respond to it more critically and avoid its negative impact on one’s personhood, values and relationships. There is a need to unmask the materialistic ploy of the media so that people stop becoming victims of its claws. Where and how this distortion of the human person depicted by the advertisements before the eyes of the naïve audience will end  must be a question seriously entertained in schools and all academic institutions. To add to this, if there is a search for a new monetary paradigm that could address the prevailing problems of our time, there must be a similar search for a model of human formation in order to redefine our view of who the authentic human being really is, especially to those to whom we owe the future – the   young people of this generation. As Sri Aurobindo quotes, “All great changes find their clear and effective power and their direct shaping force in the mind and spirit of an individual or a limited number of individuals “(Touti, 1997:8). 

 Search for Liberating Truth

     Paradoxically, the present world, information-loaded it may be, is a world where truths are concealed so that majority of the people are rendered ignorant of the real causes of poverty and sufferings. So much information about the economic system and the conduct of governments is hidden to an ordinary person. The fourth step in the Five-Point Guide -  the search for liberating truth, students are led to ask whether what is popularly known or the  knowledge that most people are aware of speaks of the truth. Students are encouraged to question even what is written in their textbooks in the light of what other groups even those outside the formal system say about a reality. In this paper, truth is defined as the real cause of an effect sans the planned distortions, the cover-ups that are mostly intentionally employed to create illusions of realities. Operationally, truth refers to what is actually happening including the real motives of people involved that brings about a certain experience in an individual or the society.

      One of the most striking truths in mediated economics is the topic on economics of abundance posed against economics of scarcity. Dejillas (February 28, 2004 Lecture) refers to economics of scarcity, as the greatest lie and myth because people are made to believe that the resources of nature and the cosmos are scarce and limited. The underlying truth, however according to him, is that the wealth within the universe abounds and that there is enough for everyone's needs.  Moreover, greed has introduced the concept of scarcity. Scarcity is nothing but a creation of man's greed and not of the cosmos. This means, for instance, that there is scarcity because the businessmen are controlling the knowledge, skills and tools to access abundance. Dejillas also introduced the concept of abundance although as a concept yet since it still must be supported by structures and mechanisms. Even then, according to him, it is possible to evidently eliminate greed and do away with the external mediators. As a requisite though, he asserts that before we can eliminate greed, it is necessary that we demolish our consciousness filled with concept of scarcity.

     From the point of view of the author of this paper, to believe that the cosmos is limited is to say that God's love stops somewhere. The abiding truth, however, is that God's love is infinite and eternal (Ps 100: 5, Christian Community Bible). What people of the world needs to do is to use resources according to the Divine laws guiding the whole of creation - the law of sharing and generosity. For indeed, the human being must recreate his society and the world at large in harmony with the plan of One who rules the world with justice and the people with fairness” (Ps 96:13). 

Search for Solutions to Problems

     Schumacher (n.d.:38) implies in his presentation of the “Levels of Being” that every human being is essentially a creator because he can act on his environment and manipulate his resources in order to serve his needs.  Along with his creativity goes the capability for expanding consciousness that enables him to be aware not only of his inner reality but the realities around him, in each part and of the whole. According to Professor Felipe de Leon (August 28, 2004 Lecture), in addition to being a creator or a “homo faber”,  it is similarly possible for a human being to project himself to the past and to the future; project himself into unseen world through the power of imagination. As an offshoot of his expanding consciousness, a human being  is also able to develop what Professor de Leon calls as an  “expanded sense of self –a sphere of being which includes not only him but encompasses his immediate family, relatives, communities.”  More significantly, the human's capabilities for creativity, expanding consciousness and expanding sense of self enable him to transcend limiting situations.  In recognition of the human giftedness, the educational institutions and our classrooms, therefore, must become like laboratories that give witness to human's infinite possibilities to conceive or create, both at the micro and macro levels solutions, to problems besetting our world.  Students even at an early age must never miss the opportunity to be aware of what is happening around them, only at a level appropriate to their developmental phase, so they can make sense of reality; think of what could be done to make a difference in the life of others and improve situations along lines that induce the process of becoming a better person in a more humane society.

      In mediated economics, there are, at least, three major solutions identified to address the complexities of problems created by the ineffective monetary system, namely: 1) Search for and construction of the new alternative monetary paradigm; 2) Recognizing the role of the Informal Sector and exploring their possible contributions to the betterment of life especially of the ordinary people; and 3) Strengthening the Solidarity Economy.

       In addition to the above solutions,  Edney   suggests that to stop the widening gap between the rich and poor, leaders must be “guided in their policy actions by what is happening at the bottom of the society and not by the bubble at the top” ( n.d.: ¶ 160  ). This means that they must focus on the poorest and how the richest deal with him. Further, the society should decide how low any member can go in so doing establish his minimum rights. This solution requires that the government leaders identify the least-advantaged person in society. Edney describes that in this arrangement, if the top rises, it pulls the bottom up with it. Consequently, if the bottom moves up it generates an effect such that it closes the gap toward equality. The arrangement described is not restrictive because as Edney explains it does not stop upward movement but it assures consequences on movements at the top.

       In order to set up what they described as a “balanced and independent collective leadership that works for the implementation of community services designed for the realization of the vision of equal opportunity in the development of all,” Ramon and Grace Devora (2004:2) proposed a kind of leadership called   “Pamunuang Mutya” or Pearl Leadership. It is both a leadership model and an economic strategy. As a collective leadership “Pamunuang Mutya” empowers people by recognizing participation and indigenous leaders through “direct people's administrative governance chosen through representation by the majority of the citizenry, from various barangay-based People's organizations, Non-Government Organization, Sectoral Groups, Multi-sectoral groups, Cooperatives, etc.” (p.1). As an economic strategy, “Pamunuang Mutya” is based on an “economic approach grounded on consumptive cooperative management, that aims to affect sustainable production and distribution of goods through people's cooperative organizations that would generate revenue for the people and the country” (p.2). Furthermore, “Pamunuang Mutya” can be an instrument for the “implementation of holistic programs for human development already existing or are still being conceptualized by various individuals and groups in the country” (p.2.).  While this type of leadership as described may look ideal, Ramon and Grace Devora believe that it could be done because it rides in the  new wave of energies  unleashed  by the universe” carrying forth the “vision of a New Earth” through  “awakened people” (p.4)

        Having identified three symptoms of  what he calls as a “sick faith”, Bishop Antonio Tagle (October 2, 2004 Lecture) of the Diocese of Imus points to the need for people to  nurture an authentic faith that must be manifested in three major  ways  to counter the said symptoms. These ways are as follows:

1.    “Ekonomiya ng pagtitiwala sa Diyos” (economy of trust in God) as against  “Ekonomiya ng pagkamkam” (economy of acquisition);

2.    “Politika ng pagmamalasakit” (politics of concern and compassion) as against “Politika ng pagkamanhid” (politics of numbness to sufferings of other people);

3.    “Relihiyon ng buhay na Diyos” (religion of the living God) as against “Relihiyon ng itinatagong Diyos” (religion of the hidden God)

     Edney suggests other remedies that include the following (¶ 162):

1)   Reinstall the Golden rule in primary education;

2)    Greed must be reinstated as a moral wrong and as a sin ;

3)    Psychology must include greed in DSM IV (standard used by all psychotherapists that contains all the mental illnesses) as a mental pathology in order to diagnose those who are afflicted and that a remedy may be sought.

        From the point of view of the author, since all the solutions above imply something about the human person, it could be drawn from them that their common denominator is the underlying prerequisite of defining a clear and shared notion of the human being or understanding of the nature of man- his needs; the meaning of his existence; his relationships to his fellow human beings, other creatures on earth and to the God; his origin and destiny; and even his place in the cosmos. For instance, the new alternative paradigm attempted to address man's total development by considering all the dimensions of human life. The persistence of the informal sector through the years of marginalization from the formal economy speaks of the ability of human beings to find creative means to go against limitations, expand their immediate world and create opportunities for them to live. The solidarity economy is born of a “new development model centered on human beings, social justice and sustainability” ( Aruda, 2001:¶ 2). Even the suggestions of Edney appeal to people  involved in  aspects of human formation such as character development, moral development, spiritual formation and mental health.  It would help, therefore, to rethink  not only the varied socioeconomic practices but, with even greater significance, also our view of the human person as well as the practices we employ in the families,  schools and other institutions in guiding persons become what they are meant to be. There is a need to look into the kind of human formation program separately offered or integrated in the curricula and find out whether its prime emphasis truly brings about  the sense of concern for others,  values of sharing and generosity instead of  the attitudes of self-centeredness, individualism and materialism.                 

     Finally, as an educator, the author of this paper presents the Five- Point Guide or the P5 as an indirect solution to the problems in our society such as the ineffective models employed in approaching the people 's  multidimensional concerns.  The author expects that through the P5 educational institutions will be able to  bring the essence of research and  social action right into the classrooms. It may also pave the way for schools to be more involved in community development.  Moreover, the P5 is a liberating and therefore, an  empowering  strategy. It  may be employed in formal settings as in the  usual classes conducted in schools  or in informal settings as in workshops and community discussions encouraging dialogue on  a wide range of topics across the different fields of studies.   It is a simple but a direct and powerful teaching strategy that may even generate more solutions to societal problems from enlightened, critical and creative minds far more than we can imagine.


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