"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, May 26, 2015

From Hitler to Prophets of Doom

The posts I have been seeing on Facebook do not paint a good picture of how we are responding to the nagging challenges of basic education in the Philippines. The Alliance of Concerned Teachers has now likened the management style of DepEd secretary Luistro to that of Hitler while Luistro apparently has been quoted by Radio Veritas as calling critics of the new curriculum "prophets of doom". The issues plaguing Philippine basic education warrant a serious reflection from both sides. The discussion really needs to be elevated to a higher level, one that actually weighs the merits and weaknesses of both arguments.

The lack of seriousness in dealing with the real problems of basic education is unfortunately matched by how clueless most of the public are with regard to the new curriculum. Such is illustrated in the following letter from concerned parents of students enrolled in Manila Science High School:

Above copied from the
Alliance of Concerned Teachers

I am an alumnus of Manila Science High School and to me, it was clear from the very beginning of the phased implementation of DepEd's K to 12 that the curriculum would be drastically different from what I went through. The spiral progression in the math and the sciences alone is incompatible with the old special science curriculum that I took during which I was taking for example full-year courses of chemistry and physics simultaneously as well as linear algebra and calculus. DepEd's K to 12 assigns a spiral approach to earth science, biology, chemistry and physics during the first four years of high school. It is only in the additional two years of high school where a strand especially designed for the sciences becomes available in one of the tracks.

A major part of the misinformation regarding DepEd's K to 12 is its narrowed focus on the two additional years. Even the letter above from the parents illustrates how much the public fails to see that the new curriculum really starts at kindergarten. Drastic changes have already occurred for the past three years. Those changes include a spiral progression in all subjects, short instructional hours, mother-tongue based multilingual education, and discovery-based learning. Children are now taught oral fluency only in the first-grade as noted on a post on this blog a couple of years ago:

And sadly, one can add the following ingredient to this hopeless mix. Those who actually have the influence or power are able to send their own children to schools that do not follow DepEd's K to 12. The following is a book list from a private school in the Philippines for the first grade:

Above copied from Cris Jason Santos
Unlike children enrolled in DepEd's public schools, students in this school are already being taught to read in English. They even have science in first grade.

Philippine basic education would continue to have Hitler and "prophets of doom" if the discussion is not elevated into one that tackles what is really going on inside classrooms. The problems can be solved but not with propaganda or by coaxing teachers, students, and parents to sign a pro-K to 12 document. The problems can only be faced properly by looking at the evidence from the ground while being guided by published research.


  1. The new curriculum has been implemented in phases. The incoming fourth year students would have had three years of the new curriculum. Why does the letter show up only now? That is enough proof that parents have not been paying attention.

  2. Severo L. BrillantesMay 28, 2015 at 4:41 AM

    The issue is not whether the letter of us parents show up only now but whether our arguments are valid. You have not addressed at all the issues we have raised. You have not shown at all that our arguments are not valid. If it is only now that we realized how our children are deprived of the education that they are entitled to as gifted students (the education which you were fortunate enough to receive when you were a MaSci student, the education that MaSci students for the last more than five decades enjoyed ), does that deprive us of the right to protest. Your statement is a most clear ad hominem, you attack us for being late in our response but remain deafeningly silent of whether or not we have advanced sound arguments. We raised legal issues, we raised constitutional issues, we cited facts and you have absolutely nothing to say about them, other than faulting us for a somewhat late response?

  3. This blog has been here for the past three years. It has been consistent in providing evidence against the new curriculum. The changes have occurred even without the additional two years. The curriculum in the old high school is no longer the same yet it is only now that the two years have become so imminent that objections are being heard. Your arguments are valid especially if these were voiced out three years ago. I never said your arguments are invalid. I have posed on this blog even more stronger arguments against K to 12.

  4. In case it is not clear to you, I have been against K to 12 since it was proposed years ago.

  5. Severo L. BrillantesMay 28, 2015 at 5:36 AM

    So why brand us clueless and misinformed?

  6. Actually, it may be beyond clueless and misinformed. To suggest making Manila Science High School as an exception to the K to 12 curriculum, when in fact the curriculum is bad for all, is narrow-minded and self-serving.

  7. Severo L. BrillantesMay 28, 2015 at 7:03 AM

    The MaSci Special Education Curriculum is intended to meet the special needs of gifted and talented students. It is on purpose congested (heavier in scope and more advanced than the curriculum of regular high schools). It has been diluted and diminished with a number of subjects which you enjoyed studying were removed, thus denying to our children the education that they are entitled to as gifted and talented students in order for them to develop their special talents. We protest that and you call us narrow-minded and self-serving? So you would call parents who would fight for an education that will address the special needs of mentally retarded or autistic children as narrow-minded and self-serving. You must certainly be clueless of the objectives of Special Needs Education which is different from Basic Education.

    I said this earlier: In the U.S., where the twelve (12) year education program is in effect, the Templeton Foundation came out with a Report entitled, “A Nation Deceived, How America Holds Back its Brightest Students”. The Report asks, “Is America ignoring excellence?” It thereafter argues that many students are ready to accelerate in all of America’s classrooms, which is the most effective curriculum intervention for gifted students (through grade-based acceleration, which shortens the number of years a student spends in the K - 12 system and subject-based acceleration, which allows for advanced content earlier than customary). Most sadly, here in the Philippines, our government apparently wishes to do the contrary for MaSci students by diluting their Special Science Curriculum and addingtwo (2) more unnecessary years to them [who have won in various mathematics and science competitions in the Philippines and
    abroad, as published in the “Golden Trail”, a documentation of MaSci’s history of sustained excellence for the past fifty (50) years.

    And you consider it narrow-minded and self-serving for us to protest against the two additional years of senior high school for our children?

  8. Severo L. BrillantesMay 28, 2015 at 7:08 AM

    this is my earlier argument:
    The means then which the law provides to enable learners to achieve mastery of the desired basic learning competencies, that is, through the decongestion of the originally existing basic education curriculum and the lengthening of the basic education cycle [through the two (2) additional years of senior high school], insofar as MaSci students are concerned, is not reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of its intended purpose. Thus, to require them to take the additional two (2) years of senior high school, moreso with a more inferior curriculum, is clearly most arbitrary and unjust, violative of their right to substantive due process. Therefore, the law as applied to them is most clearly unconstitutional.

    To treat them similar to other high school students (when they are in fact different in view of their special learning needs as gifted students), through the imposition of said K to 12 Basic Education Curriculum on them, which no matter how enhanced, is still much more inferior than the specialized science and mathematics curriculum of MaSci, is most unfair, unduly oppressive and discriminatory, violative of their right to equal protection of the laws, thus likewise making the law unconstitutional as applied to them.

    And this is to you being narrow-minded and self-serving?

  9. K to 12 is bad for all, not just for a selected few. Equity is a far better goal than excellence.

  10. Severo L. BrillantesMay 28, 2015 at 8:52 AM

    You are utterly confused. Fighting for the rights of a disadvantaged minority (be they gifted and talented learners or learners with disabilities) is not doing it simply for a select few. It is not asking special treatment for them. It is asking only that they be treated differently, as they are in fact different, with special educational needs. The constitutional right of equal protection of the laws dictate that persons should be treated alike if they are similarly situated and differently if differently situated. Apparently, you are absolutely incognitive of that fine legal distinction.

  11. I am not confused. A bad curriculum is bad for everyone not just for a selected few, not just for a disadvantaged minority. You are really not seeing the point because of your narrow mindedness.

  12. Severo L. BrillantesMay 28, 2015 at 9:11 AM

    If I choose to spouse and fight for the rights of a disadvantaged minority, am I being narrow-minded? Many voices have already been heard for "everyone". You find it wrong, if I voice out the interests of a disadvantaged minority whose voice has yet to be heard in any fora? That minority, with rights different from the majority has a right also to be heard.

  13. Except that you are asking for an exception such that your minority would be spared from an ill curriculum. It suggests that everything is fine as long as MaSci students are exempted from K to 12 - when K to 12 is bad for everyone.

  14. A better argument is stating that K to 12 is bad for MaSci students, therefore it should not be given to all students. K to 12 is not confined to high school. K to 12 has changed the elementary years and has diluted primary education such that students are still unable to read even after third grade. The curriculum is bad for all students not just MaSci students and a mere exemption from the curriculum of MaSci students does not address the real problem especially when the years before high school have been destroyed.

  15. Severo L. BrillantesMay 28, 2015 at 9:45 AM

    We parents of MaSci do not have the data to speak for everyone. We can only speak for how it has disadvantaged our children. We know for a fact that it is bad for our children. With that data alone in our possession, it will be illicit generalization on our part to conclude that it is bad for all students. Elementary Logic dictates that you cannot argue from particular to the universal. We do not know for a fact that it is bad for all. Your argument thus that just because it is bad for MaSci students, therefore it should not be given to all students is fallacious.

  16. Severo L. BrillantesMay 28, 2015 at 10:27 AM

    I will however appreciate if experts like you can show that indeed the curriculum is indeed bad for all. So far, I have not read much on that point. None of the existing Petitions I believe dwell of the defects of the curriculum itself. There is not much criticism also of the spiral approach. At MaSci, the quality of instruction has been adversely affected, considering that teachers who are experts of their respective subject areas are now being compelled to teach in other subject areas they have no expertise on. We have attempted to seek the support of Alumni but most sadly those we talked with told us that they are Pro K to 12. We intend to file a Petition before the Supreme Court and will be most thankful if you can provide us arguments to make our position broader that what it is right now.

  17. Severo L. BrillantesMay 30, 2015 at 5:10 AM

    You said the K to 12 curriculum is bad for all Filipinos. May I request that you direct us to your previous blogs or any material which discusses how bad the K to 12 curriculum itself and also the spiral approach.

  18. Severo L. BrillantesMay 30, 2015 at 5:14 AM

    So far, there is no Supreme Court Petition which attacks the content and methodology of the K to 12 curriculum itself. Please help us improve our arguments on the matter. We talked to some MaSci alumni but failed to get their support because they are blindly and shamefully pro K to 12. That is why despite our dispute, I am happy to find a MaSci alumnus who has a mind of his own. Please help us argue against the curriculum itself.

  19. For spiral approach, these are the following posts one could begin reading:






    There are other features of DepEd's K to 12 that are questionable, like learning styles:


    and DepEd's poor understanding of discovery-based approaches. Unfortunately, these are not matters that should be decided by a legal court (although the Enhanced Basic Education Act actually puts into law some of these questionable approaches in education, which is really odd since laws are not usually used to promote a theory. These are issues that need to be confronted by educators, not legislators.

  20. I am different from most MaSci alumni since I chose to stay in academics, I currently teach and do research so I am well tuned to issues in education.

  21. Severo L. BrillantesMay 30, 2015 at 6:34 AM

    I agree with you that these are not matters that should be decided by a legal court. Most unfortunately, as you have mentioned, the Enhanced Basic Education Act has legislated these questionable approaches in education and thus the only way to undo it will also be through the legal route. That is why we parents of MaSci will be filing a Petition with the SC. MaSci teachers have themselves said that the K to 12 curriculum imposed on MaSci students is anemic and are now with us in our call to restore the original MaSci Special Science Curriculum. Most unfortunately none of the alumni we have talked so far are as knowledgeable as you and are embarrassingly Pro K to 12. Thank you very much. I have already read a number of your posts on the spiral curriculum and have found arguments to help us in the Petition we will file. We need your expertise in the Philippines. Perhaps you can come so that we can invite you to speak and expose the defects of the K to 12 curriculum and spiral approach.

  22. I would have gone to the Philippines if I could but right now I have responsibilities I could not walk away from.