Education Corner 3

by Richard Womack, Ed.D - 14 SEP 2015
TO: Community
FR: Education Corner
RE: Homework for Holidays
Last month Education Corner spoke about student and teacher attendance. The homework was mostly to observe your community and see if children are going to school on time. If they are not in school and on time they cannot learn. Likewise there was a little homework to begin watching teacher attendance. For sure our children cannot learn if teachers are not present to teach them. Also EC hopes teachers are putting the students first and don't spend a whole school day at a promised brother's third cousin's father-in-laws promised brother's funeral.
But today EC comments on holidays and those are the wonderful days when students, teachers and the principal do not have to attend school. Of course all public service employees love a holiday. It means "no work". Most of us never think about why the day is so important. After all, it is a paid holiday and tax payers are paying teachers not to go to work. The day must be important if we're being paid not to work.
Twenty five or so years ago I asked a group of college students, "What is the purpose of Pohnpei Liberation Day?" The answer was an overwhelming, "So we can play games". I would never have expected American students to say that Americans celebrate the 4th of July, "So we can shoot off fireworks and have parades". At once I recalled an old Professor's advice: "Never let the student have a day off without a lesson as to why. Every holiday deserves a social studies lesson." He said something about cause and effect in the social sciences.
Anyway, last Friday 9/11 was a holiday- Pohnpei Liberation Day. EC hopes the lessons were more about the present than the past. Yes it marked our end to World War II and Japanese Colonial occupation. At the same time it liberated us to run our own lives and have a democratic government. . Of course we cannot rewrite history and we are all friends today. Colonial times were harsh times for those being occupied and for some very harsh. But Liberation Day Micronesians were freed from Colonialism, a policy practiced by many powerful countries such as Spain and Germany here in the FSM. Our 9/11 means we were liberated to go toward something not just from something.
Today most of the world and the United Nations disapprove of strong nations taking over weaker places like our islands and using them for their own advantage. Colonial times were harsh times for those occupied and for sure education was not the same. While the Japanese did begin the first "Public Education" that education was for only three years and was designed to make Micronesians loyal parts of the Japanese Empire. It was never in the interest of Colonial Powers to provide too much education for the people—after all people might find out about being free and running their own lives. A little education was fine but just enough for the masses to communicate and understand who were in charge of their lives. Today countries such as the United States, China and Japan which were all enemies at one time join together to help the FSM to move toward a free and better life for the citizens. All of the countries now say "the more education the better". These former enemies are now our friends and big donors to FSM education. EC hopes the Liberation Day lessons were about being liberated to go TO something rather than liberated FROM something. Enough about Liberation Day! It was last Friday anyway.
Before Veterans Day (11/11) think about your family members who joined a branch of the U S Armed forces. EC is sure most of them have benefitted from their service and we can be thankful for those family members. But get some "extra credit" by visiting the "Honor wall" at the Pohnpei Airport where you can see the pictures of the young FSM men and FSM women who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of the United States. They sacrificed their lives and brought honor to their family, their village, their State and to their new nation. Take your children and point out these heroes. Have a short prayer or a moment of silent honor. When we pay tribute to our fallen heroes we are reminded that no price can be put on human life.
Today it is difficult for us to take the criticisms when our citizens migrate to Guam and Hawaii. We see figures of millions of dollars for health care, education, public safety and welfare at a cost to U S taxpayers. Indeed these are partially offset by many of our hardworking FSM citizens—paying taxes and contributing to their communities. But our migration and associated cost are real. When you look and think about our heroes remember there is no price for human life. These young men and women have paid something for all of us. Tell your children we accept help—but we have given much. We can all be proud for and with our Veterans on Veterans Day.