Far off and fallacious, Senator

Far off and fallacious, Senator

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian

This week, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture, has been quoted as saying the delivery of quality education using distance learning modality is “very challenging.”

From there, he geared up and said the only choice was the distance learning modality wherein the students are given physical, self-learning modules and students are expected to learn by themselves.

He has been quoted thusly in the middle of preparations by the Department of Education for a limited face-to-face classes for 13 days next month, after President Rodrigo Duterte gave the go-ahead to the DepEd proposal to conduct face-to-face classes in areas with low COVID-19 risk.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones herself said 1,114 schools were recommended to conduct the test run for face-to-face classes, and DepEd has asked regional directors to recommend potential schools that can hold the rehearsal.

Earlier on, DepEd Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla said the department already created a list of schools nominated for the dry run, but stressed the department would only share the list of nominated schools once they passed the ‘final terms’ as cleared by the Office of the President and the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19.

But we find disturbing the comment of Senator Gatchalian, following what he has been quoted as saying he had been receiving calls from mayors and principals, and teachers about the new normal.

Read his quote: “…it’s very difficult because, still we have parents who did not graduate elementary or high school, we have parents who are not confident in tutoring their children and this presents a problem for the child because the child especially from kindergarten to grade three, this age level is where we need parent intervention but if the parents themselves are not confident to teach their children then this becomes a problem.”

We want to be persuaded that the good senator continues, as his Facebook site suggests, “to introduce further reforms to bring the Philippine education system to world-class levels.”

But to say there are parents who did not finish elementary or even high school, which should reinforce the argument for a need to start, although on a limited scale, the face-to-face classes is rather – and even this is an understatement – insulting, apart from its forward fallacy that invites a dispute.

Assuming the senator’s argument to be correct, without granting it, if there are few parents who had the misfortune of not getting an elementary or high school diploma, that cannot be a good major premise to pick up a minor premise that speaks of universality and therefore proceed from there to the conclusion the proposed face-to-face classes is hit right on the head.

We cannot agree with that kind of argument, which projects the fallacy of “Dicto Simpliciter-Secundum quid” or the fallacy of destroying the rule.

His argument exploits an over-simplistic or unqualified statement of a rule to argue, based on what should be recognized as a legitimate exception, that the rule should be rejected altogether.

Read him further, when he argues that the concept is to come up with a very localized, limited face-to-face classes, which means, in his view, holding small workshops or small groups of students probably around 10 students and a teacher helping them, tutoring them, helping them understand what they are supposed to learn.

He has argued additionally that this is important because the child needs interaction, the learner needs a lot of interaction especially in a lot of complicated subjects and this is where the role of the teachers will come in, short of defining what interaction here he did mean while health protocols are still strictly enforced.

He tried to underprop his argument with the observation that in the United States, they also had a study that it’s impossible to completely cut off the teacher from the learners because there are cases wherein the teacher should be able to explain the concepts to the learners.

“So what they did in the US, they launched what they called the learning pods and this is equivalent to the purok workshops that I’m talking about.”

In the US, he said, they have 10 students and the teacher will go there and the students will practice social distancing, wearing of face masks, it’s very limited in terms of number of days, the teachers

will only go there once a week, probably maximum of two hours a day so the student can have some engagement with the teacher. That model is being practiced in a lot of countries already.

But he was careful enough not to stumble into an education slip that parents in the United States were not elementary nor high school graduates either. (AI/MTVN)

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