"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, January 2, 2016

Starting Off the Year on the Right Foot

Recognizing the important factors influencing learning outcomes in school can bring us to the right starting point. It is necessary to realize that what schools can do is limited. Results from standardized exams in elementary schools, independent of how we view these exams, are still informing us of something profoundly wrong in basic education. When a great majority of third grade pupils in the Philippines fail to pass the National Achievement Test, we need to open our eyes and ears, and acknowledge what is truly going on. What we are seeing and hearing is no different from what Colbert King writes about in the Washington Post (We simply have to remove the word "black" from King's statement):
Beginning at least in the third grade, an overwhelming majority of black students are on a track that leads in the wrong direction — away from college-level work or a career after high school graduation.
Accepting this reality makes it possible for us to read closely what King says next:
It helps when students go to school from homes where parental supervision is strong, where respect for teachers and other students is taught, and where getting a good education is valued. It helps, too, if students are exposed at home to correctly spoken English, and where homework must be done and checked for errors.
The sad truth is that parents learn from schools as well. Parents can learn good things as well as bad things. In the Philippines, parents are taking home bad lessons on education. When the Department of Education fails to provide quality learning materials, it only demonstrates a lack of thoughtfulness, seriousness and care. A previous post, "The Time to Change Course is Now" illustrates one specific example of DepEd's gross negligence and incompetence. It only shows that education is not really important. Sadly, that message is really getting through explaining why education issues are not even in the periphery of people's attention.

For a brief period, I worked with parents in an elementary school in the Philippines to introduce the internet.
Parents can learn good things from school. However, this is only possible if a school acts like a community of learning for both children and adults for the value of education is not taught but caught.

What schools can do is limited. What parents are capable of is likewise finite. For this reason, King calls for "a community — business, religious and social leaders, including elected officials — bent on providing all that is necessary, both school resources and family support". Without a learning community, any measure taken to solve problems in basic education is just a waste of time for it is bound to fail.

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