Wrong Track in Senior High School?

With the new K to 12 curriculum in the Philippines, various tracks are now offered in the last two years of basic education. The various options available obviously make it possible for students to find themselves later unprepared for the courses they decide to take in college. A student, for instance, who finishes the accounting business management (ABM) strand in the senior high school academic track, is now required to take additional courses if the student chooses to enroll in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) major in college. These additional courses which are now called "bridging programs" are either taken during the first year of college or over several weeks in the summer before college starts.

There are bridging programs in the United States, but these are different from the ones that are now appearing in colleges in the Philippines. In Coldwater High School in Michigan, for example, the "bridging program" is an option for students…

Chalkboards versus Interactive Whiteboards

Chalkboards are disappearing. I no longer have one in the lecture hall where I teach General Chemistry. A couple of years ago, Kim Kankiewicz wrote in the Atlantic: "At a cost of up to $5,000 per classroom, schools invest far more in installing interactive whiteboards than in training teachers to use them." The training is necessary since an interactive whiteboard is supposedly so much more than just a white board on which we could use markers with different colors. Yes, we can project images on it. And with various software, make it interactive. Unfortunately, studies show that "interactive whiteboards have not raised the levels of pupils’ achievement and do not necessarily impact the quality of classroom learning."

While the rest of the world are replacing blackboards with whiteboards, a 2017 dissertation notes that teachers in Japan are still using chalkboards. Back in 2015, it is estimated that three out of four classrooms in Japan are still delivering content …

Pepederalismo and DepEd's K to 12

While the current administration is trying to campaign for major changes in the country's constitution, Mocha Uson manages to create a viral video that has captured the public's attention on the proposed federal form of government. The video echoes what I have heard recently from a professor at the Ateneo regarding how the consitutional reform is being sold to the public. Not any bit more profound than Uson's video, the public is being told in these campaigns that in federalism, any family is guaranteed to eat three meals a day. To woo customers, advertisements need to be simple and it must appeal to our gullibility. And in the case of politics, the objective becomes even more focused; Fire up the base. After all, we now live in a world where knowing less means greater confidence.

The campaign for federalism is actually no different from how K to 12 has been promoted by the previous administration. During the initial implementation of the new curriculum, banners that equat…

What Do Filipinos Really Think About DepEd's K to 12?

"If majority of those who will be in the review are those who support the program from the very beginning, this is a futile task. Involve teachers, students and most especially parents in the review," says Revenendo R. Vargas, founder of the Parents Advocacy for Children Education and an instructor at the Institute of Religion at the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines, as he comments on a recent announcement made by the Department of Education regarding its plan to review the K-12 curriculum. Well, if you ask the teachers, this is one of their recent calls: "Prevent Depression and Suicide, Liberate Teachers from Clerical Tasks".

I can actually relate to this call. During the limited time I have spent with some elementary school teachers in the Philippines, I find that clerical work really consumes the time, attention and energy of school personnel. For instance, I can see the importance of a school working on an action plan (Here is an example from 2006) …

"The Top Philippines Education Blog on the Planet"

This morning this blog was mentioned on a Facebook post by Feedspot Blog Reader. This blog has been rated as the "top Philippines education blog on the planet" based on Google reputation and Google search ranking, influence and popularity on social media sites, quality and consistency of posts, and Feedspot's editorial review. To all the readers of this blog, thank you.

The number of Facebook members that have liked this page is only 453. This is dramatically smaller than the number of Facebook fans that the other sites have., number 3 on the list, for instance, has more than 200,000 Facebook fans. The Commission on Higher Education, number 4 on the list has nearly 1 million followers on Twitter. This blog does not even have a Twitter account. So I guess what brought up this blog into a high spot is its Google reputation and Google search ranking.

Now, on its seventh year, I could only hope that I continue to be able to provide readers of this blog quality i…

What Should DepEd's First Priority Be?

Low scores in standardized tests are known to correlate with the level of poverty in a community. In the Philippines, where most pupils enrolled in public elementary schools come from poor families, the question is whether schools near slums perform worse than schools in less indigent neighborhoods. In the case of Quezon City in the Philippines, this is apparently true. A study published in GeoJournalfinds that schools that lie closer to hot spots of poverty in the city score 3 points lower in the national math test than schools in less impoverished areas. This is not surprising. However, the study finds another factor that strongly correlate with math scores so much more than the number of squatters near the school. This factor is the presence or absence of a clinic inside a school. With a recent tweet from the Department of Education in the Philippines, the government may just have hit a good target for improving basic education in the Philippines.

The researchers from the Universit…

How Is Deped's K-12? Ask a Chemistry Teacher

It has been six years since I started commenting on basic education in the Philippines. In that first piece I wrote in the Philippine Star, "First things first: A commentary on K+12", I highlighted the serious challenge introduced by a spiral curriculum in the sciences: "A spiral curriculum in high school will require teachers with knowledge in all these areas at a sufficient level. These required teachers are not going to be available in numbers so this program will be poorly implemented." Fast forward to 2018, we are now hearing from Chemistry teachers in the Philippines. An article recently published in the Australian Journal of Teacher Education reports, "...teachers revealed their disappointment as they narrated their participation in the spiral progression of chemistry instruction in the K-12 framework that it is not concentrated, extensive, and challenges instruction. Most of the respondents of this study reported how the curriculum does not spiral, des…