Wishful Thinking

There is hope. And there is wishful thinking.

In 2008, with a recession that was starting to look like a depression, there was a celebration. With two wars, there was a reason for optimism. At that time, it was clear that the task at hand was monumental. It was like a patient who was exhibiting so many symptoms, all pointing to conditions of a disease. Here came the physician. There was hope. And there was the prognosis as well. For some, what 2008 promised was quite clear. The hope was not misplaced as there was a reasonable acknowledgement of the problems and conditions that the United States was facing at that time. Some unfortunately thought that the country had a magic potion that would cure all the problems of society. In 2012, it was good that majority of the country knew the difference and decided to continue the path of moving forward.

Change is important when the current state is a predicament. Hope is openness to options but hope must still be solidly grounded on reality. Progress in reforms can be hampered by wishful thinking. Reforms without acknowledging difficulties and other options risk promising too much and delivering too little. The Deped K to 12 reform of the Philippines is an example. All ten ways outlined by President Aquino to solve the basic education problems of the Philippines have statements that are simply "wishful thinking":
  1. I will expand the basic education cycle in this country from a short 10-year cycle to a globally-comparable 12 years before the end of the next administration (2016).
  2. We need to build a proper pre-school system and make this available to all children regardless of income.
  3. I want a full basic education for ALL Muslim Filipino children anywhere in the country.
  4. I will re-introduce technical-vocational education in our public high schools to better link schooling to local industry needs and employment.
  5. By the end of the next administration, every child must be a reader by Grade 1.
  6. I will rebuild the science and math infrastructure in schools so that we can produce more scientists, engineers, technicians, technologists and teachers in our universities so that this country can be more globally competitive in industry and manufacturing.
  7. I will expand government assistance to private education. A strong private school system will strengthen our public schools by providing parents an alternative and not adding to the overcrowding.
  8. We should become tri-lingual as a country.
  9. Textbooks will be judged by three criteria: quality, better quality, and more quality.
  10. I will build more schools in areas where there are no public or private schools in a covenant with LGUs so that we can realize genuine education for all.
When the possible benefits of a reform are simply exaggerated, the debate is muted. Reforms require implementation and blind optimism closes one's eyes.  Most importantly, neither a genuine dialogue nor a true consultation could possibly occur when one is already convinced of having a magic potion.