"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

Saturday, July 7, 2012

DepEd K to 12 Modules, For Sale?

No, this blog is not selling modules for DepEd K to 12. Although, it is noteworthy to point out a comment that I recently read on the Facebook page of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers. The comment describes how some division offices are distributing the new materials. A new workbook apparently costs 160 pesos. Of this price 120 pesos go to the supplier or publisher and the remaining 40 pesos are divided among the teacher adviser (20 pesos), department chairman or head (10 pesos), office of the principal (5 pesos), and the remaining 5 pesos go to the cooperative that sells the workbooks. This is rumor, of course. The fact, however, is that the new curriculum, with its spiral approach, creates the need for new instructional materials. The unique character of the new curriculum makes it difficult to resort to already available teaching materials. For example, the modules shown in the figure above comprise the first quarter of the science subject in the new grade 7 of DepEd's K to 12. This coverage is quite different from grade 7 science subjects in other countries. It is different from the science subject that I took when I started high school. And this will be followed by three quarters on entirely different topics in biology, physics and earth science.

The word "Diversity" in the title is highly appropriate since this set of materials for the first quarter already covers a very wide array of topics and concepts in chemistry. It illustrates one of the dangers of the spiral approach. It easily lends to a "mile wide and an inch deep" coverage. As a result, students fail to master the necessary skills to progress from one level to the next. The desire to cover something complex at the beginning disregards the need to acquire basic skills and understand the fundamentals of a science discipline. One can browse any general chemistry textbook and see that the topics covered in these modules are found not near the beginning of the book, but in much later chapters. The following are the chapters, for example, of Chemistry: The Central Science, Brown, LeMay, High School Edition:

1 Introduction: Matter and Measurement
2 Atoms, Molecules, and Ions
3 Stoichiometry: Calculations with Chemical Formulas and Equations
4 Reactions and Solution Stoichiometry
5 Thermochemistry
6 Electronic Structure of Atoms
7 Periodic Properties of the Elements
8 Basic Concepts of Chemical Bonding
9 Molecular Geometry and Bonding Theories
10 Gases
11 Liquids and Intermolecular Forces
12 Solids and Modern Materials
13 Properties of Solutions
14 Chemical Kinetics
15 Chemical Equilibrium
16 Acid–Base Equilibria
17 Additional Aspects of Aqueous Equilibria
18 Chemistry of the Environment
19 Chemical Thermodynamics
20 Electrochemistry
21 Nuclear Chemistry
22 Chemistry of the Nonmetals
23 Transition Metals and Coordination Chemistry
24 The Chemistry of Life: Organic and Biological Chemistry

Chemistry likewise depends on basic concepts and notions provided by other disciplines. It relies on arithmetic and geometry. The foundations of chemistry rest on the laws of physics. For this reason, chemistry usually begins with a review of fundamental forces, work, energy, space, time and measurements. Then, it marches to what chemistry is all about: atoms and molecules. The above modules are clearly on the surface and does not provide the pupils an opportunity to be immersed in the discipline. This is akin to teaching students what prime numbers are without teaching them first what whole numbers are and how numbers are divided.

(By the way, if one of the cups in the figure above contains coffee with cream - this is not a solution. See http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/gen99/gen99499.htm)

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