Jose Rizal’s Education in the Philippines: The First Teacher
During the time of Jose Rizal, there was no prestigious elementary school established yet in provinces like Laguna. The four R’s – reading, writing, arithmetic, and religion, characterized a typical education that was offered. Although it was not handled by professional teachers but the instruction was rigid and strict. Knowledge was forced into the minds of the pupils through memorization method usually aided by teacher’s whip. It would be a lucky day for the pupils if the teacher were in good mood. The Spanish elementary education was defective. Pupils behaved and studied well out of fear or suffer from abusive disciplinary measures. Jose Rizal made a good account of himself in spite of the primitive style of education. He was able to equip himself with necessary knowledge and showed great acumen in his school performance despite of outmoded and limited knowledge in preparation for his college work in Manila and abroad.
The First Teacher
Since the mother of Jose Rizal was an illustrado, she valued and understood the importance of education. She patiently taught Jose Rizal the ABC’s and stimulated her son’s imagination by telling many stories. She even encouraged Jose Rizal to write poems and made the necessary corrections if needed.
With all these encouragement Jose Rizal gradually understood the importance of education.
As he grew older, his parents hired private tutors to give him lessons at home. The first one was Maestro Celestino and the second was Maestro Lucas Padua. Even the former classmate of his father was also employed who taught him Spanish and Latin. Unfortunately, he died four months later.
In June 1869, Jose was sent to Binan accompanied by Paciano who acted as his second father. He was brought to the school of Maestro Justiano Aquino Cruz.
According to stories, the son of Justiano Cruz by the name of Pedro once bullied him. Jose Rizal was insulted in the presence of many children when Pedro made fun of him. Having a high regard and respect of himself, he challenged Pedro to a fistfight to prove himself and regain the lost respect. He wrestled Pedro furiously inside the classroom. Jose learned the art of wrestling from his Tio Manuel, the reason he was able to beat the bigger boy. Since then, many boys in Binan tested him to a fight. Having a reputation as a good wrestler, he became a worthy opponent for the macho bravado kids.
His early eduation in Binan contributed for the love of independence in Jose. At that tender age, he was able to control himself. Although he was struck by homesickness but diverted the feeling of nostalgia in developing talents and focused more in his academic studies. He spent his leisure hours at the painter’s studio of Juancho, who gave him free lessons in painting and drawing. He even surpassed all his classmates in Spanish and Latin and other subjects. He ended his studies in Binan on December 17, 1870 after one year and a half of schooling.