A blog that tackles issues on basic education (in the Philippines and the United States) including early childhood education, the teaching profession, math and science education, medium of instruction, poverty, and the role of research and higher education.
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What Makes a Good Teacher Happy
More than a decade ago, I met quite a number of elementary school teachers in the Philippines. One of these was a young lady who was also working on her masteral degree. This teacher, Arlene Alegre Inogada, recently posted a photo on Facebook that should be an eye-opener to anyone interested in improving education in the Philippines. The photo, yet so simple, conveyed the happiness felt by a teacher. And to me, the message was clear - if we desire to improve education we must start addressing the needs first. The beginning of this school year was quite special for this teacher because of one simple reason, her students would have textbooks this year.
Above photo courtesy of
Elementary School Teacher Arlene Alegre Inogada
Focusing on what is important in education is crucial because how we make students learn involves strenuous effort from so many. We require students who are willing to learn, teachers who are committed to their work, parents who are supportive, and a curriculum that makes sense. "But do we really need any more comprehensive, costly initiatives to fix our most challenging problems? If history forecasts the future, these large educational investments will pay minute dividends. As we now race to the top after having left quite a number of children behind, we have to wonder why so many grand educational initiatives yield such limited benefits. One key reason why big reforms return few benefits is relatively uncomplicated: We design interventions from the adult perspective instead of taking a student-centered point of view." This is what Hunter Gehlbach wrote years ago in Education Week. And he ends that article with this, "However, accounting for students' core needs should be a prerequisite to designing education initiatives, if these programs are to have a chance at succeeding."
Most solutions to challenges in basic education do not really need to be complicated.
TANONG: ANO ANG KTO12 PROGRAM? SAGOT: Ang Kto12 Program ng gobyerno ng Pilipinas ay tumutukoy sa pagkakaroon ng mandatory o required na kindergarten at karagdagang 2 taon sa dating 10-year Basic Education Cycle. Kung noon, pagkatapos ng anim na taon sa elementarya at apat na taon sa hayskul (kabuuang 10 taon) ay maaari nang makapagkolehiyo ang mga estudyante. Sa ilalim ng Kto12, bago makapagkolehiyo, kailangan pa nilang dumaan sa karagdagang 2 taon pagkatapos ng apat na taong hayskul. Sa bagong sistema, tinatawag na senior high school o junior college ang karagdagang 2 tao…
People have strong opinions about almost anything and the issue of education is no exception. How these opinions have been formed needs to be examined. This is what good research does. It informs and guides. A myriad of factors influence education and oftentimes, these factors are not independent from each other. Factors interact, sometimes these add, and other times, these subtract. General notions therefore need to be carefully drawn. Writing articles on education can also be quite challenging. When problems in basic education involve an inability to think critically, it is difficult to reach the audience and convey the correct message. Oftentimes, sarcasm is lost so such style of writing needs to be avoided. For people who are convinced of their wisdom and understanding of how education works, profound messages from basic research can be often easily lost.
There is information to be gained from data. Tests in schools can be informative. Scores of students provide a quick glimpse of the current state of education. Thus, it is useful to have these numbers. These numbers may not tell everything in detail with high accuracy. Nevertheless, test results allow for a useful perspective. The National Achievement Test administered by the Department of Education (DepEd) in the Philippines, a set of standardized tests addressing the major subjects taught in school, is an example. These tests are given to Grade 3 where students are assessed in both English and Filipino (These two subjects comprise two thirds of the exam) and Math and Science (These two account for the remaining one third). A different set of tests is given to Grade 6 pupils where each of the following 5 subjects is assigned 40 items: (Science, Math, English, Filipino and Social Studies). Another set is administered to fourth year high school students (This is currently the last year…