Backtracking towards a Transformative Rizal Curriculum, pp. 10 of 11

Conclusion and Recommendations

Through the method of autobiographical research, I endeavored to understand how Professor Dumol’s Rizal course was transformative for me and, effectually, for society.

My memories have revealed that my personal transformation was propelled by the course’s emphasis on the individual’s role in the ongoing project of the nation. First, regular contextualization of Rizal’s life and works during class discussions, as well as the explication of the development of his ideas, created a compelling portrait of our Philippine national hero: an ordinary man who had searched deeply and earnestly for solutions for the social conditions of his time. Second, Professor Dumol’s reading of Rizal’s novels conveyed the important lesson that the success of a social institution relies first and foremost on individuals who will defend and uphold its values.

As political text, Professor Dumol’s curriculum builds a new social vision by overturning a national narrative that has undermined the role of the Filipino citizen. The narrative represents the nation as a historical given that denies citizens any role in its continued formation. Furthermore, it promotes sterile conceptualizations of citizenship that allow relations of exploitation and domination to continue thriving in Philippine society. With its reading of Rizal’s life and works, Professor Dumol’s course casts new light on the nation as a work in progress, a political inheritance that Filipinos must continue to mold in the face of present-day challenges (Dumol & Camposano, 2018). The course thus re-defines citizenship as a life of civic virtue and, on this foundation, builds its counter-hegemony: a democratic institution that flourishes in the hands of individuals who have learned to love the common good above their own interests.

Condensing these ideas, revisiting my lived experience of Professor Dumol’s Rizal course has unearthed the following principle: For a social studies curriculum to be transformative for the individual and society, it must explore nationhood as an “artifact of the historical process” (Dumol & Camposano, 2018), an ongoing project that is continually formed by the actions of the individuals that comprise it. When the dynamic between nation and individual is clear to the student, the crucial need for civic virtue will assert itself. Through its portrayal of our national hero as one who had toiled to cultivate salubrious roots for the yet unformed Philippine nation, thus initiating the nationhood project, Professor Dumol’s Rizal course deeply impressed in me this relationship between individual and nation. In this way was I roused to continue the project Rizal had started. 

The following guidelines may be gathered from Professor Dumol’s Rizal curriculum to convey the dynamic between nation and individual. First, frame historical figures as people who had made the nation their responsibility; specifically, situate them in their context to show how they lived in response to the social conditions of their time. Professor Dumol took the time to explicate the journey Rizal underwent, however far he would stray in his ideas, in seeking a remedy for the nineteenth-century Philippine social cancer. In this way, heroes are not cold, marble statues to be worshipped, but real men and women to be emulated simply for the way they attempted to confront contemporary social challenges. Second, conduct the class as an investigation into the notion that the nation is the result of the individuals that comprise it, making it a tangible phenomenon for students. Studying the survival of the nineteenth-century social cancer into present Philippine society allowed me to understand that our defects and weaknesses as a people have created the structural conditions that make up a dysfunctional democracy today. It must be noted that the interplay between individual actions and structural conditions to make up the present state of the nation will differ per context. As my personal narrative has shown, when a social studies curriculum establishes the individual as active shaper of the nation, the student gains a sense of his or her own power as a citizen, inspiring transformation in the self for society.

An Inspiring Quote

"[Open-mindedness] includes an active desire to listen to more sides than one; to give heed to facts from whatever source they come; to give full attention to alternative possibilities; to recognize the possibility of error even in the beliefs that are dearest to us."

~ John Dewey, How We Think

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