“Human Way (Humanity), Home Way (Communality) and My Way (Individuality) are characteristics of a Free Human Being and the Free Human Being is the goal of Liberal Education”.
- Educational philosophy of IRED Institute and PLEMS Education –
The educational philosophy of IRED Institute and PLEMS Education is elaborated in the following article by Dr. Gian Tu Trung – President of IRED Institute:
Human Way, Home Way, My Way
Although countless writings and forums have been discussing “educational philosophy” or “the goal of education”, this subject is never outdated but always remains relevant.
The quest for an educational philosophy begins with answering three questions: (1) What is a human? (2) What kind of humans do we want to foster? (3) How to foster this kind of humans?
Therefore, the concern over educational philosophy indeed aims to explore what image of a human we want to promote through education. Every person, every family, every school, every country may have their own perspectives and approaches.
After many years working in the education field as well as teaching two modules “On Learning” and “Life Management Program” at PACE Institute of Management and IRED Institute of Education, I came to a conclusion that the goal of education is to develop human beings with three qualities (Three-Way Human) including Human Way (Humanity), Home Way (Communality) and My Way (Individuality).
Human Way (Humanity) refers to the cultural attributes that distinguish human race from other species (e.g. animals, plants and machines). It considers humanness, human rights, and mankind’s universal and long-lasting values such as freedom, equality, humanitarianism or truth, goodness, beauty progressing for centuries and transcending national, ethnic, and religious boundaries.
To be a human, we must have a clear mind, a warm heart, and an open spirit. A clear mind can determine the nature of people and things, discover a self-identity, and distinguish right from wrong, true from false, real from fake, good from evil. A person with a warm heart has a vibrant soul, being moved by both tangible and intangible beauty, empathic with the pains of fellow human beings, indignant at evils, and full of love and compassion. An open spirit means selflessness and forgiveness; only with it can we become less narrow-minded, less aggressive, less jealous, and more tolerant of others’ selfishness.
In other words, man is a being with humanity; and without humanity, he is no more than an animal in the form of a human being.
Home Way (Communality) is constituted of citizenship, nationality, and ethnicity. Citizenship includes civic responsibility, civic competence, and civil rights. Nationality and ethnicity can be understood as “the essence of a nation” or national identity; a sense of origin and belonging; the lifestyle of a family, a lineage, or an ethnic group. They act as a “cultural anchor” in a diverse world of nations.
For example, a Vietnamese child, born and raised abroad, can have both Vietnamese Home Way yet feel connected to the Home Way of the place where he grows up. On the other hand, a child born and raised by Vietnamese parents in Vietnam who is not fluent in his mother tongue, only fond of Western meals, and indifferent to Vietnamese origin may elicit a question: Is he truly Vietnamese? It may sound strange yet many parents have sadly expressed, “My children have become Western kids!”
In any country, there are both good and bad traditions as part of Home Way, so what standards can we apply to judge which tradition to preserve and which one to abandon? For example, a controversy arose over the pig-cutting rituals at Nem Thuong village, which has existed for more than 800 years. People in Vietnam have begun to question this bloody and violent tradition. This example demonstrates that Home Way needs to be grounded in Human Way. Or Human Way is a filter to remove inappropriate Home Way which does not align with the values of Human Way. Regardless of its long history, If Home Way contradicts Human Way, it will never be worth preserving.
My Way (Individuality) refers to an independent and free human being. It encompasses life values and outlook; one’s “inner” (dignity), “superior” (faith) and “outward” (personality); the “brake” and the “accelerator” – the driving force within one’s conscience that discourages them from doing evil and urges them to do what is right. It celebrates what makes a human unique. It is something we seek when we say, “I want to be myself!” or “I want to live the way I am and be true to my heart!”.
The word “individuality” has often been negatively regarded in Vietnamese culture for a long time. It is similar to the notion of “freedom” which is generally interpreted as “doing whatever you want”. Nowadays, many parents are willing to work endlessly to fulfil their children’s demands and to send them to high-priced schools where they can be free to express their individuality without fear of reprimand. Consequently, there are children growing up in rebellion and bewilderment and struggling to find themselves.
Therefore, if My Way (Individuality) is not built on the basis of Human Way (Humanity), human beings take risks in becoming “monstrous”, just as freedom without culture will become wildness. For if we want to “be ourselves”, we must first “be like a human”. If we want to find My Way, we must first connect with Human Way.
If Home Way is filtered by Human Way, My Way will be established on the cornerstone of Human Way and cultivated by Home Way.
Source: Gian Tu Trung, IRED Institute
Having a destination does not necessarily mean there is a clear road to that destination. Yet if there is no destination in mind, we will not embark on any road. Therefore, all education reforms will once again fall into a cliché and deadlock, if we – the state, schools, scholars, teachers, parents, students – do not collaborate to agree on the goal of education. We must focus on learners’ self-enlightenment to become free human beings, who can lead themselves, own their lives and create their destiny. However, if we are not cautious, we will create a generation of students with high scores but little humanity, with wildness but little individuality, with Vietnamese origin but few Vietnamese traits, or the so-called global citizens without a homeland.
A true global citizen will not study for scores or certificates but study to enhance their humanity, communality, individuality, and expertise.
Therefore, any learning or teaching should aim to foster Human Way (Humanity), Home Way (Communality) and My Way (Individuality). For they are the characteristics of a free human being, and the free human being is the goal of liberal education!
Published on Tia Sang Journal, November 22, 2018