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Showing posts from August, 2018

Parents Do Not Want Their Children to Become Teachers

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For the first time since 1969 when Phi Delta Kappan (PDK) started polling the opinion of Americans on public school education, a majority now would not want their child to become a teacher in a public school. Here in Fairfax county, Virginia, it is the first school day. Hearing that most parents now desire their children not to choose the teaching profession as a career is disheartening. On September 5, the National Teachers' Month will begin in the Philippines. Sure to dampen this celebration is the recent death of a newly hired kindergarten teacher, Shannen Espino. The death is a suicide. According to the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, "Espino teaches two classes from 7am–4pm, even her lunch breaks are usually spent in the Office of the Principal doing tasks especially assigned to her; she prepares different logs, multiple lesson plans per day, worksheets which she herself must provide; she underwent 3–4 observations since her start last June which is brought about by the …

Upping the Education Game

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We all want our students to become engaged in their learning. Martin and Torres of the National Association of Independent Schools wrote, "Engaged students are more likely to perform well on standardized tests and are less likely to drop out of school. The conditions that lead to student engagement (and reduce student apathy) contribute to a safe, positive, and creative school climate and culture." So I was pleasantly surprised yesterday afternoon to see my daughter's teachers this coming school year in our front yard. The school decided this year that its staff would be visiting their students and families before classes begin. The school calls it the "Community Walk". I was not the only who was impressed, another parent clearly was, as shown on a Facebook post.



Certainly, there are a number of ways to increase student engagement. Getting the children excited right at the beginning of a new school year with a "Community Walk" is definitely a step in …

Wrong Track in Senior High School?

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With the new K to 12 curriculum in the Philippines, various tracks are now offered in the last two years of basic education. The various options available obviously make it possible for students to find themselves later unprepared for the courses they decide to take in college. A student, for instance, who finishes the accounting business management (ABM) strand in the senior high school academic track, is now required to take additional courses if the student chooses to enroll in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) major in college. These additional courses which are now called "bridging programs" are either taken during the first year of college or over several weeks in the summer before college starts.


There are bridging programs in the United States, but these are different from the ones that are now appearing in colleges in the Philippines. In Coldwater High School in Michigan, for example, the "bridging program" is an option for students…

Chalkboards versus Interactive Whiteboards

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Chalkboards are disappearing. I no longer have one in the lecture hall where I teach General Chemistry. A couple of years ago, Kim Kankiewicz wrote in the Atlantic: "At a cost of up to $5,000 per classroom, schools invest far more in installing interactive whiteboards than in training teachers to use them." The training is necessary since an interactive whiteboard is supposedly so much more than just a white board on which we could use markers with different colors. Yes, we can project images on it. And with various software, make it interactive. Unfortunately, studies show that "interactive whiteboards have not raised the levels of pupils’ achievement and do not necessarily impact the quality of classroom learning."


While the rest of the world are replacing blackboards with whiteboards, a 2017 dissertation notes that teachers in Japan are still using chalkboards. Back in 2015, it is estimated that three out of four classrooms in Japan are still delivering content …

Pepederalismo and DepEd's K to 12

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While the current administration is trying to campaign for major changes in the country's constitution, Mocha Uson manages to create a viral video that has captured the public's attention on the proposed federal form of government. The video echoes what I have heard recently from a professor at the Ateneo regarding how the consitutional reform is being sold to the public. Not any bit more profound than Uson's video, the public is being told in these campaigns that in federalism, any family is guaranteed to eat three meals a day. To woo customers, advertisements need to be simple and it must appeal to our gullibility. And in the case of politics, the objective becomes even more focused; Fire up the base. After all, we now live in a world where knowing less means greater confidence.


The campaign for federalism is actually no different from how K to 12 has been promoted by the previous administration. During the initial implementation of the new curriculum, banners that equat…

What Do Filipinos Really Think About DepEd's K to 12?

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"If majority of those who will be in the review are those who support the program from the very beginning, this is a futile task. Involve teachers, students and most especially parents in the review," says Revenendo R. Vargas, founder of the Parents Advocacy for Children Education and an instructor at the Institute of Religion at the University of Santo Tomas in the Philippines, as he comments on a recent announcement made by the Department of Education regarding its plan to review the K-12 curriculum. Well, if you ask the teachers, this is one of their recent calls: "Prevent Depression and Suicide, Liberate Teachers from Clerical Tasks".


I can actually relate to this call. During the limited time I have spent with some elementary school teachers in the Philippines, I find that clerical work really consumes the time, attention and energy of school personnel. For instance, I can see the importance of a school working on an action plan (Here is an example from 2006) …