On Language and Education

Nonfiction by | December 14, 2008

As far possible the instruction should be given by English-speaking native teachers, but not necessarily in the English language. Unless the American teacher learns the native dialect, the native must learn English in order that through it he may acquire our ideas. In the imparting of these ideas to native children neither he (the teacher) nor they (the native children) should be hampered by requiring that the ideas should be conveyed through the medium of English.

Even among Filipino schools taught in English, the visitor must be impressed by the enormous waste of time in teaching children the essential things, a knowledge of which is needed by them at once. The native teacher has in several years’ course of training by American teachers, learned fairly well many American ideas, but has poorly learned the English language. Instead of immediately communicating the ideas to his pupils in a language common to both, he wastes years of their time and his in attempting to get ideas into their heads through a language which is foreign to both of them and in which he is not a competent instructor.

In time the teaching of English to the great mass of pupils will naturally come, but it should be the last thing taught them instead of the first.

Therefore I think that in the beginning our attack upon the Moro and pagan savages should first establish the largest possible number of industrial and agricultural and training schools in which, at the outset, no books will be used, but in which native teachers who have absorbed a few, at least, of modern ideas will gradually communicate them, along with manual training, in the language of the locality.

Tasker H. Bliss,
Governor of the Moro Province, Mindanao (1906-1909)

Report dated August 27, 1906
From the Report of the Philippine Commission 375