The Problem Is Not the Curriculum

After citing current disheartening data for basic education in the Philippines, senator Gatchalian asked for a review of DepEd's K to 12 curriculum. Here we go again. This is exactly the perspective that brings us farther from actually addressing the problems of elementary and high schools in the country. The solution does not lie in the curriculum. The solution requires that we transform the schools into genuine teaching and learning institutions. For these, resources are needed. These should be provided first. Second, we must embrace the fact that instructors need to be empowered so that they can become effective teachers of our children. A curriculum obviously cannot address these two important steps.

Above copied from the Manila Bulletin

Resources cost money so we should not waste any more funds that do not really address the problem. There is no other way to solve shortages in education. These needs simply must be met.

It may sound as an overused idiom, but effective teachers do not really grow on trees. Genuine learning communities do not sprout overnight like mushrooms. That is another cliche. But seriously, we need to accept this harsh reality. "It takes a village to raise a child", and yet, we seem to think that teachers working as isolated islands of knowledge can do the job.

A fruitful education reform must rest on a solid foundation that is directly linked to how teachers teach and how students learn. A curriculum does not address this. A curriculum only addresses what teachers should teach and what students would hopefully learn.

As an example, here are suggestions that directly address the "how" of teaching and learning, and not the "what" (Taken from Rick and Becky DuFour):

Action Steps to Bring Mission Statements to Life
Authors identify eleven different actions schools might take to ensure practices are aligned with the mission of learning for all. Use these to guide your discussions around your current reality and developing schoolwide collective commitments/values.

1. Every teacher is engaged in a process to clarify exactly what each student is to learn in each grade level, each course, and each unit of instruction;

2. Every teacher is engaged in a process to clarify consistent criteria by which to assess the quality of student work;

3. Every teacher is engaged in a process to assess student learning on a timely and frequent basis through the use of teacher-developed common formative assessments;

4. Every school has a specific plan to ensure that students who experience initial difficulty in learning are provided with additional time and support for learning during the school day in a timely and directive way that does not cause the students to miss any new direct instruction;

5. Every school has a specific plan to extend and deepen the learning of students who have shown proficiency on the grade level essential;

6. All professionals are organized into collaborative teams and are given the time and structure during their regular workday to collaborate with colleagues on specific issues that directly impact student learning;

7. Every collaborative team of teachers is called upon to work interdependently to achieve a common SMART goal for which members of the team are mutually accountable;

8. Every teacher receives frequent and timely information regarding the success of his or her students in learning the essential curriculum and then uses that information to identify strengths and weaknesses as part of a process of continuous improvement;

9. Building shared knowledge of best practice is part of the process of shared decision-making at both the school and team level;

10. Every practice and procedure in place in the school has been examined to assess its impact on learning; and

11. School leaders are held accountable for ensuring all of the above happen.

Clearly, from the above, one must start with a mission. And this example chooses a very good one: education for all. This is where we need to start. It is with this mission that we truly begin to address how our teachers should teach and how our students would learn.