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Why Music Is Important in Basic Education

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Learning music is good in itself but it does more to basic education. When a child learns to play a musical instrument, a child also learns self-control or regulation. A musical instrument requires the player to shift between mental and physical tasks. Playing with others also demands attention and synchronization. And to produce flawless texture, memory is important. To become proficient in playing a musical instrument necessitates practice and therefore discipline. Being able to play music can bring a sense of accomplishment to anyone and therefore can assist in improving an individual's self-confidence. Lastly, playing music together is about working together. Music is much more about collaboration than competition. All of these can easily translate to benefits in math, language and science subjects. And recent research demonstrates this.


By examining the records of more than one hundred thousand high school students in British Columbia, Martin Guhn, Scott D. Emerson, and Peter…

We Should Not Confuse Equity With Equality

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What the Parent-Teacher Organization in my daughter's elementary school is doing is definitely commendable. Before school starts, all students will be provided school supplies. Not all students in this school probably need this help, but providing this to all eliminates the need to identify those who are privileged and those who are not. This is what happens when everyone is treated equally.


We must, however, not confuse equality with equity. Equity still requires that we identify children who are in need, and provide something extra for them.


What Did You Do This Past Summer?

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Mason Crest Elementary School has been holding watch parties during which teachers read a book every Tuesday evening on Facebook these past few weeks.

The sign at the entrance of the school reminds students to have a good summer and read! read! read!  The previous post on this blog, "Them That Has, Gets", talks about the summer learning loss that happens over the break. It is truly commendable that teachers at Mason Crest are keeping in touch with their pupils through social media. A recent post on Facebook from Sergio Jimenez opens our eyes to something that we should also consider when pupils return to school after the summer break: "Some kids are simply glad that summer is over."


"Them That Has, Gets"

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It is a phrase that summarizes well a rule in organic chemistry, Markovnikov's rule, the carbon that has more hydrogen gets the hydrogen. Sadly, this rule likewise applies to basic education. Achievement and skill gaps between poor and rich children are already present even before kindergarten. And it has long been accepted that these gaps only grow with years of schooling. A study that started in 1982 even demonstrates that the difference between disadvantaged and better-off students grow during the summer months.


Recently, Paul T. von Hippel and Caitlin Hamrock have questioned the validity of the summer learning loss. In a study published in the journal Sociological Science, these authors conclude that the summer learning loss is simply an artifact of how children are tested.


Interesting to note is the quote at the beginning of the article, "Give me a child until the age of seven, and I will give you the man." In this paper, the authors actually suggest "that read…

Gaps in Science Education

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Disparities in both reading and mathematics performance are well known. These gaps exist between Whites and Blacks, between Asians and Hispanics, between rich and poor, and between native English speakers and English language learners. What is perhaps less discussed is that this disparity is likewise evident in science. After all, achievement in science is dependent on both mathematics and reading. The gaps in science test scores are as wide as those in reading and mathematics. These have been illustrated by Paul Morgan and coworkers in an article published in 2016 in the journal Educational Researcher

Race Gap
Income Gap

Language Gap

With the accompanying analysis of the above data, the researchers make the following observations:

A significant knowledge gap already exists when children enter kindergarten.Growth in science is dependent on a child's progress in reading and mathematics. The fact that the knowledge gap in the early years predicts performance in eight grade is extremely…

"The Cult(ure) of Homework" and Detention

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"The Cult(ure) of Homework" is the title of the first chapter in Cathy A. Vatterott's "Rethinking Homework". In this chapter, Vatterott highlights the following widely held but unexamined preconceptions:  (1) We must extend learning beyond the classroom; (2) Activities that are intellectual are more valuable; (3) Children learn responsibility through homework; (4) More homework means greater rigor; and (5) Homework means better teachers and students. These preconceptions are really nonsense. One thing, however, is certainly true: Homework can increase inequity in education. Vatterott correctly states, "Despite there being more diversity among learners in our schools than ever, many teachers continue to assign the same homework to all students in the class and continue to disproportionately fail students from lower-income households for not doing homework, in essence punishing them for lack of an adequate environment in which to do homework." I had to …

The Current State of Mother Tongue Based - Multilingual Education in the Philippines

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Equity in education demands no less than the complete abolition of linguistic hegemony. Unfortunately, with the bulk of scholarly and scientific work published in the recent decades, English has become an effective international medium. In the Philippines, the DepEd K-12 curriculum has embraced a mother tongue based education to help children feel at home in their schools and, at the same time, preserve and nurture the various languages of the country. The program has been in place for about seven years now so it is timely to assess its current standing. The Philippine Institute for Development Study (PIDS) reports that nearly all public schools (99.5%) claim to be implementing a mother tongue program in kindergarten through third grade. Of course, with more details, the program looks less rosier. More than half still do not have the books written for this program.

PIDS uses a list of four activities as a minimum requirement to consider a school as fully implementing a mother-tongue b…