"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

Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Night of Books in an Elementary School

My children returned to their school, Mason Crest Elementary School, last night to attend a book fair. My son was eager to arrive on time since the book he wanted was probably at high demand. The book was "LEGO Star Wars: the Dark Side". He had a preview earlier in the day of the book fair so he knew exactly where the book was on display. True enough, when he got to the table, there were no more copies of that book. Fortunately, there were still some copies left inside a box under the table so my son went home happy last night.


My five-year old daughter was likewise excited about the book fair. In fact, we had to miss our karate class just to attend the event. She also had her eyes on one book and luckily, she also got a copy.


There were a lot of books. The school's library was turned into a bookstore.


In addition to fiction, there were science books. There was even a display of books in Spanish. There were a lot of people and the line to the cash register manned by volunteer parents was quite long. So as I stood in line, my son actually read other books.



The principals were likewise present and at one point, were reading a story about a shark and a minnow, Nugget and Fang.




Of course, children came with their parents so I even saw a program officer from the National Science Foundation, who likewise has a child enrolled in the school, among those lining up to buy books. It was refreshing to see the other stakeholders in public school education.

My children did enjoy being surrounded by books and other children, but one highlight for my daughter's evening was ice cream, chocolate ice cream with whipped cream and strawberry syrup on top.


It does not require quantum physics to understand what is necessary for a book fair. Books come from writers and illustrators. Books show up in print because of publishing and printing companies. Children come to this book fair because of their parents, school staff, administrators and teachers. It takes an entire community to hold a book fair. It takes a village to educate a child. Problems in Philippine basic education are without doubt due to the absence of so many of these factors.

While it may seem straightforward to appreciate what is required, educating children is a much more difficult task than solving Schrödinger's equation. An evening with books in an elementary school is truly a humbling experience for it clearly lays out what is necessary. It should make us pause and reflect whenever we hear of a silver bullet that may solve all the problems in education. It should be clear that disengaging any one of these factors can lead to serious ramifications in education. To instill a love for reading, a love for learning, it surely takes more than one sound bite. At the least, it requires ice cream....



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