Showing posts from November, 2018

Born in August - More Likely to Have ADHD

I was a senior in college when I was 19 years old. I was therefore young compared to most of my peers. Back in first grade when conduct was part of the report card, I should just say that my rating under the subject left a lot to be desired. This continued even in the later years of elementary school where my math grade approached 100% while my conduct grade was stranded at 78%, with 75% as the passing mark. At least, I passed. Imagining myself as a student in an elementary school here in the United States makes me wonder if I would actually be more likely referred to an evaluation for some condition such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Perhaps, I would. There is a study that just came out in the New England Journal of Medicine that goes through data on children in the US who were born in the period from 2007 through 2009 and were followed through December 2015. The paper's very interesting finding is that "rates of diagnosis and treatment of ADHD are high…

"Treating All High School Students Equally"

“To be clear, the Court is not saying that petitioners are not gifted, contrary to their claims. The Court is merely saying that the K to 12 Law was not infirm in treating all high school students equally. The Manila Science High School students are, after all, high school students just like all other students who are, and will be, subjected to the revised curriculum,” the Supreme Court of the Philippines stated in its ruling upholding the constitutionality of the country's K-12 curriculum. Equity, however, does not mean equality, and an effective education is one that responds to student's needs. The previous post on this blog, Focusing on What a Child Needs in Basic Education, talks about the problem of labeling children without actually addressing the needs of each child. This statement from the court is a very good example of how we terribly miss the central point of education.

It does catch my attention whenever my alma mater, Manila Science High School, appears on the ne…

Focusing on What a Child Needs in Basic Education

Although it is obvious that an effective education must be guided by what a child needs, we often spend more time labeling our students as if skills and knowledge are static. In gifted education, for example, we focus more on "bragging rights" thereby reducing classrooms for these exceptional children to mere positions of ascendancy and neglecting the fact that these children have unique needs. Paying more attention to what a child needs is important in education as an article in reminds all of us. When we think of needs, we have a specific child in mind and there is no need for ranking children in any given classroom. It is only through a recognition of these needs, how special these are, how these can not be possibly met in a general classroom, can we in fact justify a separate program, a separate classroom designed specifically for exceptional students.

Focusing on needs means less attention should be given to what a child's accomplishments are. This involves…

When a Court Decides on Matters Involving Education

The Supreme Court of the Philippines has ruled that DepEd's K to 12 is consitutional. The court can weigh on content that needs to be taught if these are deemed in line with the interest of the state in the well being of its citizens. DepEd's K to 12 is therefore seen by the Supreme Court justices as a curriculum geared toward the welfare of Filipino citizens. Such ruling, of course, takes into account only matters of constitutional proportion, more specifically, balancing the rights of the citizens against greater state interest. The court cannot really decide whether a curriculum is pedagogically sound as this determination should rest in the hands of educators, not lawyers, not judges. Thus, DepEd's K to 12 is constitutional in so far as its general nature is judged to be for the common good. After all, who can really argue against two additional years of basic education? However, whether the K to 12 curriculum is effective or not is a matter only data and research can …

More Than Half of Filipino Families Are Deprived of Basic Education

A couple of years ago, the Philippines has adopted a more detailed and comprehensive way of measuring poverty. This methodology takes into the account the following dimensions: education, food and nutrition, health and santitation, and employment.  Two indicators are used for education: school attendance and educational attainment. School attendance counts the number of families that have at least one school-age child (between age 5-17) that is not attending school, while educational attainment counts the number of families that have at least one family member aged 18 or older who have not completed high school. The initial numbers for the years 2016 and 2017 are indeed sobering for educational attainment: At least half of Filipino families have one member aged 18 or older that has not finished basic education.

These numbers represent the first attempt to measure poverty in the Philippines along different dimensions. These are derived from representative surveys that include about 500…

Why Do We Keep Doing the Same Things That Are Already Known Not to Work in Education?

If you are renovating a home, you would not pay a contractor if the work does not yield good results. If you are on a drug regimen, you will not be advised to continue with the same course, if positive outcomes are not observed. Ingrid McCarthy at STEM Sellshas some highly inspirational words to share: "We can't keep doing things the same way and expect different results." Yet in the field of education, we seem unable to apply the same principle as we stubbornly cling onto schemes that simply do not work.

One good example is gifted education. It is widely known that enrollment in gifted, talented or advanced academic programs has gross underrepresentation of the poor and certain minority children. This underrepresentation, of course, mirrors the well known academic achievement gap associated with poverty and race. This is only expected since there is really no other way but to look at achievement when screening for gifted students. What will be surprising is if these two…

Lacking Attention Or Motivation: We Should Tell Stories in Our Classrooms

A mom and a teacher, Shari Gent, provides nine tips to help kids who struggle in starting and completing tasks in one of the recent issues of ADDitude magazine. While most of her suggestions involve rewards and a change in mindset, one seems to have a high probability of working and may apply, in fact, to all students: "connect uninteresting activities to areas of interest". Children diagnosed with the attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are capable of demonstrating at least in a few activities focus, organization and motivation. These are often activities that are of great interest.

Thomas Brown, a clinical psychologist specializing on ADHD, notes this similarity among all children, regardless of whether they have ADHD or not in his article, "The Mystery of ADHD Motivation, Solved". All children are motivated in tasks that they are interested in.

While Brown does describe the lack of motivation insightfully, comments from readers clearly indicate a wan…

Voter Education in Basic Education

In tomorrow's election in the United States, the party that manages to convince their supporters to go out and vote will win. Society does reflect a situation in which we have already acknowledged that convincing people that our values matter do not work and what simply works is exciting people with what they already believe in. Such is the enigma of moral education. Richard Weissbourd shared a story in the Harvard Education Letter years ago: "I asked my six-year-old daughter and a few of her friends a question posed in a popular character education program: “Should you be honest with your teacher if you forget your homework?” One of my daughter’s friends hesitated slightly but then piped up: “Do you want me to tell you what you want to hear, or do you want me to tell you the truth?” Emboldened, another friend stated flatly, “I know that you want me to say I should be honest, but nobody is honest about that.” Weissbourd cited research that showed students "felt only patr…

Advanced Academics: Examining Our Mindset

"Without examining our theories and thinking, focusing on policy and resource issues will do little to change the reality of learning inequality."  This is indeed a profound statement of Anthony Muhammad in the preface of his book Overcoming the Achievement Gap Trap: Liberating Mindsets to Effective Change. And I find advanced academic programs as one of the best areas in basic education where Muhammad's words must be heard and seriously considered. It is a fact that minorities and low-income children continue to be underrepresented in these programs, yet we persist in finding ways to alleviate the problem without addressing the heart of the matter: Our continued belief that there are always children who are exceptionally superior in intelligence compared to their peers in a classroom. With this mindset, we then device screening schemes through which we can identify these children early on. And when we find our selection is biased towards socioeconomic status or race, w…