This does not mean, however, that nothing that was taught was of any value. We became literate in English to a certain extent. We were able to produce more men and women who could read and write. We became more conversant with the outside world, especially the American world. A more widespread education such as the Americans desired would have been a real blessing had their educational programme not been the handmaiden of their colonial policy. Unfortunately for us, the success of education as a colonial weapon was complete and permanent. In exchange for a smattering of English, we yielded our souls. The stories of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln made us forget our own nationalism.
The American view of our history turned our heroes into brigands in our own eyes, distorted our vision of our future. The surrender of the Katipuneros was nothing compared to this final surrender, this leveling down of our last defenses. Dr. Chester Hunt characterizes this surrender in these words:
“…The programme of cultural assimilation combined with a fairly rapid yielding of control resulted in the fairly general acceptance of American culture as the goal of Filipino society with the corollary that individual Americans were given a status of respect…”
This, in a nutshell , was (and to a great extent still is) the happy result of early educational policy because, within the framework of American colonialism, whenever there was a conflict between American and Filipino goals and interests, the schools guided us toward thought and action which could forward American interests.
Goals of American Education
The educational system established by the Americans could not have been for the sole purpose of saving the Filipinos from illiteracy and ignorance. Given the economic and political purposes of American occupation, education had to be consistent with these broad purposes of American colonial policy. The Filipinos had to be trained as citizens of an American colony. The Benevolent Assimilation proclamation of President McKinley on December 21, 1898, at a time when Filipino forces were in control of the country except Manila, betrays the intention of the colonizers. Judge Blount in his book, The American Occupation of the Philippines, properly comments:
“…Clearly, from the Filipino point of view, the United States was now determined to ‘spare them from the dangers of premature independence,’ using such force as might be necessary for the accomplishment of that pious purpose…”
Despite the noble aims announced by the American authorities that the Philippines was theirs to protect and guide, the fact still remained that these people were a conquered nation whose national life had to be woven into the pattern of American dominance. Philippine education was shaped by the overriding factor of preserving and expanding American control. To achieve this, all separatist tendencies were discouraged. Nay, they had to be condemned as subversive. With this as the pervasive factor in the grand design of conquering a people, the pattern of education, consciously or unconsciously, fostered and established certain attitudes on the part of the governed. These attitudes conformed to the purposes of American occupation.