What’s with the title?

Posted by watchmen
October 5, 2017
Posted in OPINION

The academe – a place where you can find people obsessed with titles.
At every faculty meeting, I cannot help but smile seeing people who add “Ph.D” at the end of their name, or scratch out “Mr.” or “Mrs.” and replace it with “Dr.” or “Prof.”
They see it as proper respect and recognition for their efforts and graduating from a prestigious school. In some instances, when being introduced, they consider it a mortal sin to not be addressed by their title. I was reprimanded for saying “Good Morning Sir” instead of referring to an individual as “Doctor.”
Pinoys are fond of titles and credentials, manifested in some households displaying the professions of their children on the walls outside their home – also meant to serve as a reminder to others that they are professionals.
The fixation with title attachment is also seen with the use of “RN” for registered nurse, “RSW” for registered social worker, and “LPT” for licensed professional teacher. Only lately did I realize “Atty.” is not a proper honorific title, but a mere invention by title-obsessed Pinoys. That made me question titles like “Engr.” and “Arch.” and found they followed the same trend. According to Miss Manners (Judith Martin), they also are not considered formal English honorifics – they didn’t even show up on the less-reputable Wikipedia.
The dictionary defines the said terms as mere abbreviations, but not to be utilized as a title.
Why are Pinoys obsessed with titles? I have two hypotheses:
Quality of education in the country is based on IQ, where in order to reach the top of the totem pole, one must be a recipient of an award, or honor. In the context of “pantayong pananaw,” is it the “ginhawa (comfort)” that drives a person to acquire “magandang buhay (good life).” This includes “dangal (dignity),” through which one can elevate themselves and be proud in garnering “gahum (power).” All of this can only be achieved by earning good grades and being at the top of the class.
If this kind of momentum truly prevails, that would mean grades are the truest measurements of one’s intellect, with parents programming their children to pursue courses with high-paying careers – and to acquire a title. This feeds into the title obsession with individuals looking for the big schools in order to earn a “badge” to show employers – “I am the graduate of a prestigious school, and a top graduate, hire me!”
Education becomes limited to credentials, putting more emphasis on titles than actual contribution and, somehow, they turn into mere bragging rights to flaunt achievement.
There are some who use the title “Prof.” but have yet to achieve the level of professor – not all who attain a master’s degree or Ph.D can use the title of professor.
Titles seem to offer a type of comfort and people look up to those with titles, as they usually dovetail with power.
Where exactly did these “Atty.,” “Arch.,” and “Engr.” titles come from? I suspect the Americans who colonized the country encountered Filipinos hungry for knowledge, especially those who were deprived – the Indios. Their method of narrowing that gap was through education.
Americans were aware of educational discrimination during the Spanish era and used the idea of public schools as their principle agent for “Americanization.”
Every six kilometers there must be a public school giving Filipinos an opportunity to learn for free; a large part of their education policy was to adopt English as the medium for instruction.
General Elwell Stephen Otis shared his views with General Arthur MacArthur, Jr., father of General Douglas MacArthur, noting, “Public schools are a way to pacify people and procure and expedite the restoration of tranquility throughout the archipelago.”
He deployed soldiers as teachers and officers are superintendents.
The use of English in schools made it possible to introduce American public school curriculum. With American textbooks, Filipinos began learning, not only a new language, a new culture. They masqueraded their actions as “assimilation;” subjugating Filipinos in order to teach them values, like American egalitarianism
However, how does one teach egalitarianism in a colonial system? The Americans exposed Filipinos to the wonders of American life; opportunities of employment and advancement in government were all based on a competency in English. This system bred the new Filipino elite into a more “American system,” with people who earn advanced degrees at the apex of the system; wherein purported prestige rested on mastering the colonizers’ way of life and not intelligence.
This colonial hangover is a product of the benevolent assimilation into Americana by killing the value of being Filipino – it’s no wonder American culture is considered “superior” to local society, with American society seen as a model of excellence for the Philippines.
There is also a verbal class distinction attached to those who speak English.
If an individual does not speak fluent English, they are not considered intelligent; however, if they are fluent in English, with good pronunciation (even if the words they use have no substance), then they are considered intelligent.
This means the colonizers’ language has become a measurement of intelligence.
Filipinos were improperly educated and continue to be the victims of colonial Americanization.
This attraction to titles does not come from an earning degree, but a perceived hierarchical profession and the prestige that comes with the McDonald’s-ization of the culture.
If titles are meant to represent values, title holders should have pride in what they have earned, but use it to teach and inspire students, instead of just flaunting it without know how to teach.
Additionally, one must work hard to earn a title and not just take a shortcut through a diploma mill institution.
Lastly, live with dignity without taking advantage of people’s ignorance, especially for those with the Atty., Engr., among other titles.
Although, for those “Honorable [elected official]” titles, who many times are not committing honorable acts, those are the most absurd titles yet./WDJ

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