Wednesday, 1 February 2012

A SECOND LOOK at OUR CLASSROOM




by Earlie Doriman
An ailing education!Is there a bright future
to look forward to?
I feel obliged to share my viewpoints about the current state of education in my home country – the Philippines; and the effect that the new system known as ‘K+12’ would suggest to improve the quality of education and quality of graduates. This is purely my opinion and I wish to get across my message as objective as possible to the issues about the radical changes that would take effect very soon. To provide you a general idea, K+12 is introduced to improve the ailing state of basic education and rectify the inadequacy of secondary graduates with essential aptitude for a university study. The new system adds two more years to the typical four years of secondary education creating a two-year senior high school.

I was an educator and I remain to be by heart. Teaching was my first vocation and I am always proud of it. I got my education in the Philippines and practically I have an overview of the old system from primary until college. I taught for nearly 12 years and that experience taught me the best opportunities to enhance my own inadequacies. I truly enjoyed the teaching profession and would constantly cherish the fulfillment it afforded me knowing that as a teacher I was able to touch lives and make a difference to my students’ well-being. In the process I am humbled, that these students have made a difference to my life as well.
I still hope I could go back to teach in my home country. Whilst working in school here in England, it is with full conviction that I have even acquired more compelling experience to share in terms of methods, paradigm, classroom dynamics, and school management. It is indeed a blessing and an eye opener to get this job. A blessing because it is an answered prayer of a decent work and an eye opener because I am able to realize how distant are we left behind in education in terms of vision, paradigm, pedagogy, and curriculum. However, I am very proud to say that Filipino teachers are still amongst the most dedicated servants of education even though the paycheck is miserably low.


Why Support K+12?
The Philippines is one of the few countries with the shortest compulsory formal education, 12 years to be exact - 2 years kindergarten, 6 years primary/elementary, and 4 years secondary. Most high school graduates are then expected to take up college or university courses of their choice whether or not their skill, personality, and capacity fit the chosen field they want to do.
In comparison, England and most countries in the world have 16 years or more of compulsory education – 3 years foundation, 6 years primary, 5 years secondary, and 2 years college. College education is entirely different from university study. Before anyone could take a university degree, he/she has to study in college to find out what career he/she is capable of doing at the university level. It thus serves a rational ground for university candidates to see where their potential could be more useful in the society.


Political Right versus Success
Whilst education is a constitutional right and what course to take up should be a personal choice, the practical reality is that - not everyone is called to become a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer, a teacher, a nurse, computer programmer, amongst others. It is therefore imperative that the model of high school curriculum would be able to recognize skills and aptitude in which students are encouraged and groomed in the field that their capabilities fit them best. The additional two years in the K+12 should underline the importance of career advice and the provision to seriously prepare them for college or university life. Students’ achievement in school is not an option; it requires truthful assessment and proper guidance and therefore educational reforms should also focus on how to make individuals employable and more useful when they graduate.
The Department of Education is against all odds
to implement the K+12 system in the SY 2012-2013
I understand that the addition of two more years of formal education is an utter pain to both the government and the parents. But if our education system is to catch up the effect of globalization, then the present administration is correct to say that the long term benefits of K+12 would, improve literacy rate, strengthen secondary standard, fortify competitiveness, and consequently advance economic growth.


What Curriculum?
In educational philosophy, the core curriculum is the backbone of learning. Being such, it should be designed carefully to meet the needs of students and society. It follows then that if the backbone is poorly made and weak, then the yield would equally inherit the same old flaws. I don’t need to shatter it up about the over-crowded classrooms and dilapidated school buildings. In crude analysis, if the curriculum is no longer efficient, then it has to be reformed and restructured. The current curriculum that majority of the secondary school in the Philippines is using might be good enough during the 60’s or 70’s but I believed it is no longer supporting the needs of students in this generation in terms of acquiring the essential knowledge to prepare them for a supposedly tougher college or university study. At this junction I would say that this curriculum failed badly in its role to develop the full potential of every student and it failed equally in achieving all that the student is capable of.
On the other hand however, there are also private schools in the country that maintain a high standard of secondary education by reforming their respective curriculum. In the same way relevant curricula are used in all science high schools which remarkably produce students who excel in college or university. Sadly, this is a very small number which does not represent the general condition of the secondary curriculum and the overall quality of secondary graduates.
For instance, I feel so humbled to realize that secondary students here in England are already knowledgeable about research methods. They can identify and speak confidently about dependent and independent variables, analyze data from a particular practical which make them ready for proper research work. There is a very wide disparity in the volume of content for science and mathematics subjects and as to how much do we need to catch up is a question so difficult to gauge considering how massive the gap appears to be at the meantime.
The problem is not that Filipino students are not capable to understand, it is rather a failure of the present curriculum to deliver these lessons to them. I always believe in the brainpower of our youths and they have the aptitude to become better but it is a shame that our own curriculum causes its palpable collapse and our educational backbone deprives them to obtain the critical knowledge.
Here in England, biology, chemistry, and physics are taught since year 7 (first year high school) until year 11 (senior high school). The extensive lessons in these basic sciences underline the gap between the knowledge obtained by Filipino students in the same subjects against their English counterparts. First year students have already a superior foundation in science and are continuously strengthened throughout the secondary years. The Philippine curriculum would fail badly in Mathematics as well. For the entire four years in high school, we only have six (6) Maths subjects including electives running against twelve (12) Maths subjects for English students. Naturally, if these two groups are compared and assessed – one has more information whilst the other has less.


This thorough preparation is further evaluated and enhanced during their two year college and their performance would speak about their suitability to a particular university degree. On the other hand, our high school graduates are not categorized according to suitability and are not guided properly for their future career. Mostly, they could enroll to any college/university course either as a personal interest or as a parental prescription.


Paradigm of Teaching
Methodology and teaching strategy should not be a matter of wealth and poverty. Whilst developed countries are able to acquire the best resources to support methods of instruction, developing countries like the Philippines could still deliver the subject matter by sheer ingenuity and resourcefulness. This might be a very tall order for the poorest communities which need a complete second look, but for most public secondary schools there are available means to effectively assemble knowledge. Experiential learning is what this generation appreciates. Introduce more practical works in the classroom instead of writing too many things to memorize. This is one area of teaching and learning where we fare very poorly. Rote memorization does not develop critical thinking. Effective planning for simple but relevant experiments provides a wider avenue for the students to understand and learn efficiently.
Secondary students in the Philippines
(Photo from yahoo images)
At the end of the day, whether a country is rich or poor, the prevailing theories and principles of Science and Maths are the same. This means that we are all reading and studying similar concepts, hence the central goal is not only to understand them but to make use of the concepts to advance life and the society. You don’t need a high-end apparatus to demonstrate Newton’s Laws nor the latest technology to demonstrate an activity for chemical reactions. It is not vital to own an iPAD or laptop to understand algebra or calculus or trigonometry. Teachers have convenient access to the internet and there are thousands of practical examples across the web to learn from. Mathematics is fun if there is an appealing activity in which a particular topic could be communicated and again the internet is the best buddy to obtain it.
Teachers have to remind themselves over and again that the character of the present generation of students is visual and interactive. Their attention span is very short and for a one-hour class teachers should employ activities which are worthwhile and interesting. Active learning strategy is working brilliantly in the developed nations and this approach should be completely understood and applied thoroughly to our students. A country does not have to be wealthy to do this.


Quality of Students
On a positive note, Filipino students are amongst the brightest in the world. Evidently, even with inadequate training and resources in public schools, our students are still able to compete internationally. Aside from that, most of the Filipino students are hardworking, exploratory, resourceful, respectful, and polite. Their drive to succeed is overwhelming and regardless of the hardships and challenges they encounter day by day, their desire to get education is immeasurable. That is one thing that makes me very proud about our students. The fervor and passion to graduate is so critical in the learning process too.
Look, students in England are so privileged in almost all aspects in their primary and secondary studies – free of the essential materials in schools, books, notebooks, pens, pencils, folders, papers, amongst others and even meals for poor children. Almost everything is served on a silver platter. But based on my observation most of them do not have the determination and dedication to compete and excel, except for the gifted and highly motivated. The reasons maybe diverse but one that I could suggest is the fact that they don’t need to exert their best to pass the subject since the system does not fail them anyway.
In general comparison; given the same resources, reforms, responsive curriculum and time frame, there is no doubt to say that our secondary graduates could be amongst the best in the world. Having said that, I find the K+12 a very intelligent reform to put forward the standard of our secondary education and level-up the quality of our young people.

24 comments:

  1. nice post...hopefully this will call authorities to give more priority to education and give chance the have not's to get school.

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    1. Yes indeed, Education should be priority. Only if the money that goes to corruption should have gone to building schools and improving teacher training, then there is more enough reason to be happy about the future of our children.

      Thanks Den

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  2. although it would mean additional expenses for parents like me {i am not worried yet as my little man is not due in high school until after 10 years! :)}, i am all for this k+12 program. the quality of local education has deteriorated in the past several years + it is high time authorities do something about it....

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    1. Hi Jared,

      It has not only deteriorated but has also created brain-drain to our economy and decreased global competitiveness.

      Let us all be positive with K+12 and we'll see in the next years to come how this could bring about lasting benefits.

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  3. Thanks for appreciating the Filipino students towards the end of this post. Oo nga, even if we have limited resources, we still strive to learn more and educate ourselves :)

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    1. Hi Algene,

      During my years of teaching, I was always impressed and have appreciated how my students tried their very best regardless of the circumstances they were in and I continue to appreciate that character of valuing education. In comparison to the students here in England, Filipino students are very hardworking and resourceful, intelligent and creative.

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  4. So far, this is the most profound analysis I've read about the status of educational system in the Philippines and the its real need for reforms. I am glad for your support of the K+12 Program which some Filipinos seem to misunderstood. While there are some opposing the program, there is no reason for our government not to pursue its implementation.

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    1. Thanks Ed for your nice words.

      Yes indeed, educational reforms are things that the Department of Education should give priority.

      I support it because I believe, that will definitely make a difference.

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  5. Here's hoping for the best in our education system and Filipino youths :)

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    1. Me too brambleberry..There is loads to hope for/

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  6. Hi, my parents are both educators and both working in a public high school. They agree with k+12. At first glimpse, you think of it as more costly, but when you get the brighter idea you will know that the program has great scopes. My dad said it is a valid idea, by the time a student would graduate after undergoing K+12 he will turn 18 (meaning he's in the legal age to work). So the skills learned in school is still fresh in his mind, making him more competitive.

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    1. Firstly, let me extend my appreciation to your parents as I have the highest respect for teachers and they are the genuine unsung heroes of our country, in spite of the miserably low salary. Their dedication and commitment to molding young people never falter.

      We are in one heart supporting K+12 program as this will surely make a difference to the kind of secondary education in the Philippines.

      Thanks for your message Kid.

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  7. I have a nephew, he is 21 and he only finished 1st year high school but he can repair computers and even hack into ISPs. He was considered dumb because he didn't study and had no interest in schooling.

    I don't think he is dumb nor is he unintelligent because not even the most computer savvy college graduate can do what he does with computers.

    The problem with our education system is, it's boring. Students are not interested to learn, they are more interested in playing games and hanging out with friends in malls.

    Adding years to a boring education system will not make students more interested.

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    1. That is practically the failure of our curriculum. It is not able to distinguish multiple intelligences and your nephew is one of the sad realities that haunt this educational method.

      Education is never boring, and your nephew, if only given the right motivation and guidance in his studies could have used up his computer genius to a level that is more productive to society.

      There are no daft individuals, only indifferent approaches.

      If he were here in England, am sure he belongs to the elite group of computer wizards who are trained to be multi-functional in information technology.

      A-levels will surely discover what he is made of and develop more that potential.

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  8. mmmh. i guess our education is still a bit the same with england due to the so called masteral. though its not compulsary but everyone have the choice to pursuit or not to pursuit the course they have taken in college.

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  9. as an aspiring teacher in the future, what we need is quality education not the quantity of education we should take (K+12). NEW FOLLOWER. HOpe you could visit and follow me too.
    from
    How to Become an Einstein? and
    Finding Mirmo: The Lost Cat

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    1. Just followed you at GFC Einstein.

      Delete
  10. "Almost everything is served on a silver platter. But based on my observation most of them do not have the determination and dedication to compete and excel, except for the gifted and highly motivated." - This is the reality in American Education too!!! .. and if compared, I agree, Filipino graduates are amongst the best in the world! As far as K-12, mmmm... could I vote for more teacher training/professional development, better facilities and higher teacher salary scale instead?

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  11. wow.. this is the article today about k12..

    Let's just help and support our children with their studies.

    It doesn't matter how long it would take.. :P

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  12. let's help to strengthen the Philippine education. The implementation of K-12 is also a good idea, plus improvements too for the teachers, facilities, etc in order to motivate them all to work and study harder.

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  13. I think they need the K-12. We called that in England as A' Levels. After high school they go to college for 2 years to earn A'levels then proceed to Uni. To be honest to you. To proceed my education here in England I took English and Maths as basic requirements to qualify to University. And the way they teaches English and Maths is 10 times far from education I have in the Philippines. I passed both exams with flying colours. Unfortunetly, if I wish to proceed my course I have to pay for it. Indeed, everything is serve in a silver spoon here. Number 1 reason why I don't want to go back to the Philippines and live there with my kids is the educations system. No way I pay for expensive education for quality education. It's free in England.

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  14. during my time, kindergarten was not a prerequisite to grade school. I learned at home and went to 1st Grade in a proper school. There are private schools with 5 years high school system like LaSalle. I believe that Filipino children are willing to learn. But there are a lot of circumstances that hinders them to continue like poverty. If they will implement such system, it will not make any difference. They have to solve poverty first. It's the first factor that affects most of the children in the Philippines.

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    1. Hi Julie,

      Thanks for your comments. Adding two years just for the sake of adding will surely not make a difference, but if the curriculum is also reformed then there is a brighter future for our high school graduates. Like what your experience, i guess you were more confident and prepared after having 5 years in high school compared to those who were only having the 4 year-term.
      Poverty would be dealt with separately because whether or not there is an educational reform, the issue of poverty remains a critical problem of the country since time immemorial and surely it would still take loner period and more comprehensive government anti-poverty program to solve it.
      On the other hand, the problem of education is one thing with a clear solution and a rich research support.

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  15. I completely agree with Julie's comment. I think that the most important and best way to truly improve the education here is to increase the educ budget and help our population to get past poverty.

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