How Is Deped's K-12? Ask a Chemistry Teacher

It has been six years since I started commenting on basic education in the Philippines. In that first piece I wrote in the Philippine Star, "First things first: A commentary on K+12", I highlighted the serious challenge introduced by a spiral curriculum in the sciences: "A spiral curriculum in high school will require teachers with knowledge in all these areas at a sufficient level. These required teachers are not going to be available in numbers so this program will be poorly implemented." Fast forward to 2018, we are now hearing from Chemistry teachers in the Philippines. An article recently published in the Australian Journal of Teacher Education reports, "...teachers revealed their disappointment as they narrated their participation in the spiral progression of chemistry instruction in the K-12 framework that it is not concentrated, extensive, and challenges instruction. Most of the respondents of this study reported how the curriculum does not spiral, despite documents saying it does."

What is surprising is that most of the respondents in this study who are supposedly teaching chemistry in high schools in the Philippines have not even taken a single chemistry course in college. This is, of course, only expected as I noted in my commentary six years ago. There is already a shortage of science teachers. It only becomes worse when we expect one teacher to deliver instruction in biology, chemistry, physics and the earth sciences. Predictably, the study finds that 
"Teachers are not well trained and lack the necessary preparation in using the spiral approach. Respondents expressed the opinion that if the teachers are not competent and prepared, least possible learning can exist for the students. Furthermore, chemistry is best taught by teachers who specialised in chemistry. Spiral progression requires heavy preparation since every teacher must learn and teach the four science subject areas. With some of them being non-majors make it even harder."
Unfortunately, even if schools in the Philippines meet the conditions required for an effective spiral instruction, and these are well-trained teachers, adequate materials and facilities, the K to 12 science curriculum still leaves a lot to be desired. The chemistry curriculum, for instance, fails to cover first the foundations of modern chemistry and instead delves into a survey of materials, an exercise that is guaranteed to be superficial. A previous post on this blog, "Spiral Curriculum: When and How? Redundant versus Progressive?", elaborates more on this aspect.

It has been six years. Indeed, it is time to evaluate DepEd's K to 12. The Philippines' secretary of education says so.

Above copied from the Inquirer

Reviewing a curriculum, however, requires a correct approach. There are assessments that can inform us on whether a curriculum is working or not. Unfortunately, the only thing mentioned in the news regarding the secretary's initiative to review the curriculum are call centers and robots. Briones talks about "life skills" when we are not sure if students are even acquiring knowledge.


  1. Challenging po talaga para sa mga science teachers ang pagiging spiral approach ng subject na science. Nangangailangan po ito ng panahon para ma-enhance din po ang skills at instruction ng mga teachers na nagtuturo ng subject na hindi nila major. Gayunpaman, lagi pa ring maaasahan na kahit ganito po ang sitwasyon ay ginagawa pa rin ng mga guro ang kanilang responsibilidad sa abot ng aming makakaya (sa tulong na rin ng ilang pa-seminar at training kung meron).


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