"Bear in mind that the wonderful things you learn in your schools are the work of many generations, produced by enthusiastic effort and infinite labor in every country of the world. All this is put into your hands as your inheritance in order that you may receive it, honor it, add to it, and one day faithfully hand it to your children. Thus do we mortals achieve immortality in the permanent things which we create in common." - Albert Einstein

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Classrooms: An Environment for Learning

The classroom is the centerpiece of a school's education. Inside each room is a teacher and pupils engaging with one another. The main purpose is to create a climate suited for learning. Classroom management could be a challenging task to any teacher. There are times when a teacher needs complete silence and there are times when a teacher wants active participation from the students. The objective is always keeping the attention of the pupils. Both lectures and activities can be held inside a classroom.

In the following video of GMA News, the situation in a school in Urbiztondo, Pangasinan is highlighted. About 500 students are crammed inside a covered court with only portable blackboards dividing the different classes.


The challenges are crystal clear. There are 5 section in grade 4 and 4 sections in grade 3, with each section numbering more than 50 students. The covered court also sits right next to busy roads so vehicular traffic adds considerably to the noise inside the covered court. The statement made by Pangasinan DepEd officials regarding the fact that problems such as this will remain with or without the implementation of DepEd K to 12 is correct:
"...the six division superintendents stood with conviction that problems on the shortage of classrooms, insufficiency of books and school facilities have been age-old problems in most schools — so whether to implement K to 12 or not, these problems would still be present...." 
What the DepEd officials fail to see is that addressing such problems must be first priority. The fact that these problems exist reflect the gross neglect of the government in providing quality education to the youth. The failure to provide the basic needs of public education provides a good measure of how well, or in this case, how bad a government runs its educational system. If the government cannot add 1 + 1, then the government cannot solve for x in (x + 1 = 2). The classrooms in Urbiztondo, Pangasinan provide what quality people could expect from DepEd's K to 12.

We should not be blinded by sound bites like "It takes an entire community to educate a child." Partnerships with the private sector can indeed aid public education but there are responsibilities that rest on the government. One of these is providing an environment for learning. The government can not delegate its primary responsibility of providing the basic needs of public education to the private sector while wasting resources and time on a misguided K to 12 curriculum. The government should not waste its funds paying consultants and preparing new materials for a new curriculum if the implementation of a new curriculum will happen in an environment like that of Urbiztondo Integrated School. The government cannot preach to parents the need to make their homes more conducive to learning when public schools can not do the same. It is true that it takes an entire community to educate a child but that community includes the government.

Changing a curriculum, drawing K to 12, these are all easy tasks. These do not translate directly to the education of the youth. The classrooms and the teachers in these classrooms do. Another sound bite is that "people generally do not like change." People actually do, if the change is for the better. If the government changes the way it treats public school teachers by upgrading their salaries, supporting their work, improving their training, giving them the respect they deserve, the people will embrace this change.

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