"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

Monday, May 18, 2015

DepEd's K+12: A Threat to the Teaching Profession

"Teachers must be included in the process of curriculum development, regardless of the group of players who are primary in the process. Teachers are the best source of information about what specifically will and will not work in a science classroom. They bring a strong note of reality to the process, through their familiarity with schools, communities, and the classroom environment."
The above is an advice from the National Academy of Sciences in the United States. This advice is often heard, but unfortunately, too frequently ignored.

Elizabeth Birnam and Debora Nary, after following a literacy reform in one school district conclude that "the power to effectuate change must come from the collective, unified voices of the teachers - the boots on the ground". In their book, When Teacher Voices Are Heard, they likewise identify the following as key to a successful education reform: transparency, open-mindedness, and the power of the collective.

When Teacher Voices Are Heard
The top-down dictated K to 12 curriculum from the Department of Education in the Philippines, on the other hand, exemplifies what exactly should not be done in reforming education. One could only lament while reading the following post on Facebook (COTESCUP group):


With regard to the new curriculum in the Philippines, teachers' voices are apparently muted. Teachers feel afraid to voice out their concerns in fear of retaliation from the administration. With bonuses determined by students staying in school, teachers even feel that mass promotion is now encouraged. The worse part is that teachers are unable to provide the much needed feedback on what is lacking or what is wrong with the new curriculum and its implementation. This is a precarious situation. As noted in When Teacher Voices Are Heard, it is important that feedback is readily available in an education reform:
"Oftentimes, when a "hole" is discovered in the curriculum, teachers will be the first to recognize that, and they are holonomous enough to fill in that hole and make sure others have the updated information they need to properly address the standard."
While the direct consequences of shutting down criticisms are quite obvious, future repercussions on the teaching profession are devastating. An article published in the Harvard Educational Review highlights what happens with educational reforms that are technically and moralistically controlling:
If dissent offers a place for learning, what does this say about the future of teacher professionalism in a climate of instructional control that suppresses dissent? Are the new teachers in our study like the proverbial canaries in the coal mine, giving us early warning signs about threats to the profession?...
...As Ingersoll (2003) keenly observes, “Having little say in the terms, processes, and outcomes of their work may undermine the ability of teachers to feel they are doing worthwhile work — the very reason many of them came into the occupation in the first place — and may end up contributing to turnover among teachers”.... 
The Philippines like other countries is in great need of effective teachers. The silencing of teacher voices only erodes further the teaching profession. Slogans that claim two more free years of basic education are truly empty if the price to pay is the death of the teaching profession.




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