Showing posts from June, 2016

Media Multitasking

It seems that everyone tends to multitask nowadays especially with smart phones. Even young kids are now claiming that they are capable of attending to more than one activity at the same time. Of course, our cognitive functions are really limited that oftentimes what we think is multitasking is actually switching between tasks. Thus, there is concern that performance is compromised as we keep trying to do more than one thing at a time. In addition, there is a worry that multitasking may actually degrade one's cognitive skills. Well, there is a study that now points out that media multitasking is most probably not a cause but a result of poor executive function ability.

The study, Media Multitasking in Adolescence, published in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, looks at more than 70 eight grade students to see if there is a relationship between media multitasking and the following cognitive and behavioral measures:
MCAS Math MCAS English Count span N-back Filtering Com…

Lessons from Estonia

"“What [we] saw in Estonia was not a new education system, it was an old one. By every account they did not change the system after the wall came down…. It’s hardly surprising they continued to get great re­­sults.”, Marc Tucker, president of National Center on Education and the Economy in Washington, D.C, was quoted in an article on the Hechinger Report. Estonia has a nine-year compulsory basic education program. And Estonia now ranks 11th in math and reading and 6th in science out of the 65 countries that participated in an international test that compares educational systems from around the world, called the Programme for International Student Assessment.

Factors responsible for Estonia's success are identified in the report. These are:
Focus on equityTeacher autonomyFree early childcareSocio-economically integrated schoolsNo academic tracking The takeway message:
“We really follow the straight line that everyone is equal. It doesn’t matter what kind of family you come from…

When Primary Education Is Ineffective

"Although the objectives of primary education include developing the cognitive competencies of the student, few schools in developing countries achieve this goal, largely because of the previously identified poor schooling conditions. As a result, there are three undesirable consequences: to few children complete primary school in developing countries; students who do complete are often poorly educated; and consequently, the adult labor force is uneducated." This is what Marlaine Lockheed wrote in one of the chapters of the book "Effective Schools in Developing Countries". Poor schooling conditions consist of: a curriculum that is inappropriate in scope and sequence; inadequate teaching and learning materials; inadequate learning time; and ineffective teaching practices. DepEd's K to 12 may be getting a lot of attention at the moment, but in the last four years, Grades 1 through 4 in primary education have already changed. And sadly, these grades have changed f…

What Students Need

Everyone who has something to say about basic education often advocate for the future of our children. At least, that is what they often claim. Unfortunately, people have different ideas regarding what students really need. Take, for instance, the question of curriculum, what appears to be important depends on who you ask. It does seem that way if you listen to people who are quite a distance from a classroom. Apparently, with teachers there is some sort of an agreement on what students really need. Students need content knowledge, conscientiousness, critical thinking, and study skills based on a recent survey of educators in the United States.

In this survey, opinions from the workforce, supervisors and employees, are also included. The results are summarized in the following table.

With the workforce, the common elements people think should be emphasized in the curriculum are reduced to two: Content Knowledge and Conscientiousness. It should not be surprising that five of the seven …

Finishing high school

My father did not finish high school. He had to fake a high school diploma just to get a job as a security guard. But my father was my first teacher in mathematics. Back to the time when we were tending a small store inside Pasig market, my father made me add the sales for the day. Of course, there was the much more exciting activity, horse racing. The math here was not as straightforward. I had to figure out how much time a horse would take to finish a 1 1/4 mile race given its record on 7/8 mile race, as my father and I did our weekly Dividendazo review. My father taught me so much more than just math though. He taught me the skills and principles to survive in the mean streets of Manila. And he never failed to instill in me the perseverance and determination I needed to finish at least high school. In fact, one of the days I thought my father felt a true life accomplishment was when I told him the news that I was going to be in the star section in Manila Science High School for my …

"The Dog Ate My Homework"

For the past school year 2015-2016, the Philippines' DepEd reported the following enrollment numbers in public schools for the following levels: Grade 6 (2.0 million), Grade 7 (1.7 million), Grade 8 (1.6 million), Grade 9 (1.4 million), and Grade 10 (1.3 million). The number of students enrolled in tenth grade reflects a 35 % decrease in enrollment from seventh grade. With the new grade 11 of DepEd's K to 12, 0.4 million are estimated not to enroll.  Four hundred thousand, by the way, is the difference between Grade 7 and 10 enrollments in 2015. Incoming secretary Briones must be having great difficulty in dealing with these numbers when she was quoted recently:
"With or without K-to-12, you will have just 50 percent, perhaps, of those who graduate from elementary to proceed [to high school]," Briones said. "DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro said that, every year, there are about 1.2 million graduates in elementary, and roughly 50% of them drop out. That is in the r…

Save Our Schools

Edu Punay of the Philippine Star reports "An insider in the high court believes a decision stopping implementation of the K-12 program, which took several years in preparation under Republic Act 10533 (The Enhanced Basic Education Act), is “not likely.”" It is indeed a shame if a court decides on something in a manner one normally expects from an executive branch, and not on judicial grounds. The various petitions against DepEd's K to 12 clearly have merit and for the court to issue its verdict on reasons other than the rights of those who are affected by Republic Act 10533 would indeed be a sad chapter in this blog's quest to improve Philippine basic education. Nevertheless, it should be clear that so many points have been raised here not so much to discredit the number of years in basic education, but to highlight gross errors in both formulation and implementation of current education reforms in the Philippines. Thus, whether the court decides in favor or against …

Why Being in School Matters

When school comes to mind, it seems that math and reading are often the first things people prioritize. But school should be so much more. After all, being in school takes a significant amount of time in an individual's growth. For this reason, leaving school does so much more that alternative learning systems for adults should not really become an option. It is imperative then that all efforts must be exhausted to keep children in school. Past the teens, excellent opportunities have been lost. Schools should provide children ample time to explore and discover the world around them and their own hearts and minds. Last night, I watched my son's 4th grade class perform "Ode to Joy". I did not have such an opportunity when I was growing up which made me realize that my son's school was indeed making the most of my child's time.

With the above fresh in my mind, I would like to take you back to a previous post in this blog,

Music, Arts and Physical Education

In th…

"Students Need to Attend School Daily to Succeed"

When a student is not in school, formal education simply can not happen. Worse, when a teacher is absent, an entire class misses one school day. Outgoing secretary of education in the Philippines, Armin Luistro brags that this year is the "best class opening thus far". This statement ironically comes with an admission that around 200,000 to 400,000 students are possibly dropping out of high school this year. Roy, a seven year old, has his photo holding a "Junk K to 12" sign posted on Facebook. Roy has never stepped into a school. Einstein Recedes, who posted Roy's photo, states a sad realization that he may just be a product of an educational system that places profit above service.

Sarah Eliago shares a different story. Also on a Facebook post, a photo of Senior High School students sitting on the ground is displayed with the caption, "There maybe Senior High School, but there is no teacher to teach".

Eliago also notes on another post that in the hig…

Learning to Read: One of DepEd's K to 12 Big Lies

Those who support DepEd's K to 12, like Aquino, seem too quick to claim quality, but their claims are not really supported by evidence. While this blog demonstrates clearly what is wrong with DepEd's K to 12, some defend the new curriculum with a clear ignorance of what the new curriculum really is. Take, for instance, the issue of reading. The outgoing president of the Philippines, Aquino, once said, "At the core of our children’s non-learning problems is the inability to read properly. By the end of the next administration (SY 2015-16), every child passing pre-school must be a reader by Grade 1. Essential to this, we must build a library infrastructure in our schools, procure reading books (from our Philippine publishing industry to support local authors and publishers) and train our elementary teachers on how to teach reading. By the end of the next administration, every child must be a reader by Grade 1." There is actually nothing in DepEd's K to 12 that will…