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By Isagani Cruz | Updated October 14, 2010 - 12:00am
The public debate about K+12 has started. As in any debate, there is a government side and an opposition side. At this point, each side has presented its own arguments. The next step is for each side to rebut or demolish the other side’s arguments.
On the government side, in the discussion paper it disseminated during its press conference last Oct. 5, the Department of Education (DepEd) has given at least nine reasons for the K+12 project:
1. “Enhancing the quality of basic education in the Philippines is urgent and critical.”
2. “The poor quality of basic education is reflected in the low achievement scores of Filipino students. One reason is that students do not get adequate instructional time or time on task.”
3. International test results consistently show Filipino students lagging way behind practically everybody else in the world. In the 2008 mathematics exam, for example, we came in dead last.
4. “The congested curriculum partly explains the present state of education.” Twelve years of content are crammed into ten years.
5. “This quality of education is reflected in the inadequate preparation of high school graduates for the world of work or entrepreneurship or higher education.” If ten years were adequate, how come employers do not hire fresh high school graduates? How come most high school graduates flunk the UPCAT?
6. “Most graduates are too young to enter the labor force.” Since most children start Grade 1 when they are 6 years old, they do not reach the legal employable age of 18 when they graduate from high school today.
7. “The current system also reinforces the misperception that basic education is just a preparatory step for higher education.” Why prioritize the minority of high school graduates that go to college?
8. “The short duration of the basic education program also puts the millions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), especially the professionals, and those who intend to study abroad, at a disadvantage. Our graduates are not automatically recognized as professionals abroad.” The best examples are our engineering graduates, who are condemned to international jobs not befitting their professional status due to our not having a 12-year basic education cycle.
9. “The short basic education program affects the human development of the Filipino children.” If we believe that 17-year-old high school graduates are emotionally, psychologically, and intellectually mature, why do we require them to get parental consent before they get married?
On the other hand, those opposing the plan put forward the following arguments:
1. Parents have to shell out more money (for transportation and food) for the education of their children.
2. The government does not have the money to pay for two more years of free education, since it does not even have the money to fully support today’s ten years. DepEd must first solve the lack of classrooms, furniture and equipment, qualified teachers, and error-free textbooks.
3. We can do in ten years what everyone else in the world takes 12 years to do. Why do we have to follow what the rest of the world is doing? We are better than all of them. Filipinos right now are accepted in prestigious graduate schools in the world, even with only ten years of basic education.
4. As far as the curriculum is concerned, DepEd should fix the current subjects instead of adding new ones. The problem is the content, not the length, of basic education. As an editorial put it, we need to have better education, not more education.
5. A high school diploma will not get anybody anywhere, because business firms will not hire fresh high school graduates.
6. Every family dreams of having a child graduate from college.
7. While students are stuck in Grades 11 and 12, colleges and universities will have no freshmen for two years. This will spell financial disaster for many private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).
8. The drop-out rate will increase because of the two extra years.
(If there is any objection that I have not yet heard, please send me a message through the Philippine STAR website or through my Facebook account.)
The government has not yet shown the arguments of the opposition to be fallacious. It is true that, when asked about the issue during his 100-day town hall meeting, President Aquino mentioned the economic benefits of the plan, particularly its expected contribution of roughly two percent to GDP. As of this writing, however, the government is still focusing largely on having its arguments understood by the public.
The opposition has been very vocal airing its arguments not only in newspapers, on radio, and on television, but even in the parliament of the streets. As of this writing, however, I have not heard the opposition rebut the arguments of the government. In fact, as far as I can see, they have refused to even listen to the government.
Since this is a public debate, we have to move from constructive speeches to rebuttal. Next week, I shall start examining the arguments of both sides to see if they are reasonable. (To be continued)
TEACHING TIP OF THE WEEK: “Have a plan but be willing to trash it.” This advice from Muriah Summer is supposed to be about teaching language to two-year-olds, but it also applies to teaching any subject to adolescents and adults.
By Isagani Cruz | Updated October 21, 2010 - 12:00am
In any debate, the debaters first agree on what to debate about. In the public debate about K+12, many participants have differing ideas about what exactly DepEd has embarked on.
To understand the plan better, let us go a bit into the process of implementing it.
This year, School Year (SY) 2010-11, DepEd will design the K+12 curriculum (for convenience, let us call it the Enhanced Basic Education Curriculum or EBEC).
In the case of mathematics, for example, DepEd will sit down with mathematicians from universities, as well as with industry representatives, to identify the set of mathematical facts and skills needed by an 18-year-old entering college or joining the job market. This set is variously called “Minimum Learning Competencies” (or simply “Competencies”), “Qualifications,” or “Outcomes.” These competencies will then be assigned to one of the 12 grade levels in order of importance and difficulty.
Students already in public school will continue to follow the current Basic Education Curriculum (BEC) and will graduate, as they expect, after Fourth Year High School.
Next year, SY 2011-12, DepEd will try to get all five-year-olds to go to Kindergarten.
DepEd has taken seriously the findings of researchers that Grade 1 students should not stay for more than four hours in school (the research has to do with learning capacity). Since Grade 1 students will go home earlier, classrooms will be freed to take in Kindergarten students. There will, therefore, be no need for more classrooms nor more teachers. (Grade 1 teachers can teach Kindergarten.)
Meanwhile, DepEd will start training teachers in the new curriculum (for convenience, let us call it the Enhanced Basic Education Curriculum or EBEC). To continue using Mathematics as our illustration, notice that a major difference between BEC and EBEC is that the academic track of EBEC has Calculus in Grade 12, but BEC does not have Calculus at all.
In SY 2012-13, students entering Grade 1 and Grade 7 (First Year High School) will follow EBEC. Instead of having to cram 12 years’ worth of subjects into 10 years, they will go deeper, more leisurely, and more effectively into those subjects.
In SY 2013-14, SY 2014-15, and SY 2015-16, high school students will continue through Grades 8 to 10.
At the end of SY 2015-16, all students will attend graduation ceremonies and receive a diploma. (DepEd is still deciding whether the diploma will be called Junior High School Diploma or simply High School Diploma.)
Students will then have four options. First, they can just leave the educational cycle completely and live unhappily ever after with their (Junior) High School Diploma. Second, they can immediately apply for admission to Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). Third, they can take two extra years (Grades 11 and 12) to prepare for college; this is the academic track or college preparatory Senior High School (SHS). Fourth, they can go to the technical or TESDA track of SHS to acquire specialized skills required by companies hiring 18-year-olds.
In SY 2016-17, students taking the second option can seek admission to college. (Remember that HEIs are constitutionally guaranteed academic freedom, which includes the right to impose or not to impose admission standards.)
It is important to realize that the Bologna Process, the Washington Accord, foreign graduate schools, and so on require that our basic education system should have 12 years; they do not require that an individual undergo 12 years of basic education. (If I may be immodest, I can cite myself as an example. I was accelerated twice in elementary school and graduated at 14 from high school. That did not keep me from being admitted into a nationally-ranked American doctoral program through a Fulbright grant.)
Of course, unless they are exceptionally smart, students entering an engineering, economics, or similar program will find that not having taken Calculus in Grade 12 will be a major disadvantage. Average students will be forced to take extra college years doing Calculus (and all the other academic subjects offered in Grades 11 and 12), in the same way that HEIs are currently doing remedial work through the General Education Curriculum (GEC).
Still in SY 2016-17, students taking the third option will be taking subjects taken by high school students everywhere else in the world (for example, Calculus). They will also have two more years of English, Filipino, Math, Science, and Social Studies (Makabayan), which will then allow them to fulfil the expectations spelled out in the proposed Revised GEC (“The GE program assumes that high school graduates applying for admission into an HEI will have the linguistic, scientific, mathematical, and creative knowledge and skills necessary for higher-level academic work. In particular, GE courses presume higher-order thinking, speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills that students should already have before they are admitted as tertiary students.”)
Students taking the fourth option will have several specializations open to them. These specializations will be determined by the industries that have already committed to hire SHS graduates. At the end of Grade 12, a technical student will earn not just an SHS diploma, but a TESDA certification and, more important, job offers. DepEd has even thought of a way to help technical SHS graduates that decide to go to college anyway. (To be continued)
By Isagani Cruz | Updated October 28, 2010 - 12:00am
President Noynoy Aquino has boldly stated, in so many words, that at the end of his six-year term he wants to be known primarily for two achievements – that he made corruption the exception rather than the rule and that there were fewer poor Filipinos when he left Malacañang than when he was elected president. In short, he considers corruption and poverty to be the main enemies of his administration.
The K+12 plan should be seen in the context of the government’s war against poverty.
The statistics are too familiar. One out of every 10 Filipino children never steps into a school. Out of every 100 that do enter Grade 1, only 86 make it to Grade 2 and only 76 finish Grade 3. Only 65 finish Grade 6 and only 58 continue to high school. Only 43 finish four years of high school and only 23 enrol in college (of whom 15 go to private HEIs). Finally, only 14 finish an undergraduate degree.
Right now, only those 14 have a realistic chance of getting a good job or setting up a successful business. The K+12 plan addresses the needs of the 86 that do not get a college degree. The plan gives these 86 two more years of free education that should give them enough skills to get a good job or to put up a successful business enterprise.
That is one side of the debate. Here is the other side. (In order to be exhaustive, as well as fair, I will discuss only one point per side every week.)
Opponents of the K+12 plan point out that, even if the two more years of education were free, parents still have to shell out money for transportation, clothes, food, projects, and incidentals. That most parents cannot afford the extra two years is shown by the government statistics themselves. The primary reason for dropping out of school is economic. Parents would rather have their children stay uneducated than risk entire families going hungry or getting into indescribable debt. The plan, according to its opponents, worsens rather than lessens poverty.
Since I said last week that I would show the weaknesses of both sides of the debate, let me ask the question, what is wrong with both sides?
Proponents of the K+12 plan should not make it appear (even unwittingly) that they have found a cure-all for our problems with education. The plan will indeed, as I will discuss in future columns, solve some curriculum-related problems, but it will not solve all the other problems (classrooms, teachers, textbooks, teacher training, drop-out rate, corruption, and so on). In particular, it does not solve the problems of the 57 that do not finish four years of high school at all.
The plan attempts to help only the 20 that finish four years of high school but do not go on to college (that’s 43 minus 23). It is these 20 that will be given another chance to raise their quality of life. Even the 8 that go to public HEIs might want to just earn a high school diploma instead of working for a four-year college degree; they could also be helped by the plan. We are, therefore, talking of only at least 20 and at most 28 beneficiaries. (Of course, you have to multiply those percentages by the total school-age population.)
If the expectations from the plan were kept limited, it would be much easier to sell to the public. After all, the 57 that do not even get to finish four years of high school will not be affected by the additional two years and should not join the debate. The 15 that go to private HEIs presumably have some money and would be minimally affected by the additional years.
Opponents of the plan, on the other hand, have a credibility problem. Practically all of them do not belong to the 20 to 28 that will benefit from the plan, since they are college graduates. There is clearly something very wrong with privileged people trying to keep those that drop out after high school from having another two years of free education.
The argument against the opponents, however, need not stay on the ad hominem level (shooting the messenger rather than listening to the message). The Work Minus Two argument (that I wrote about in an earlier column) shows that parents actually save money by accepting the K+12 plan. Instead of having to pay college tuition and incidentals (transportation, food, etc.) for four years, parents need to pay for only two more years of allowances. The poor parents of the 20 to 28 can now look forward to their children earning money after the technical track of Senior High School.
We should, therefore, stop talking of parents objecting to the extra two years. Once explained properly to them, the K+12 plan will be acceptable to poor parents. In fact, in 2003, SWS conducted a nationwide survey asking parents (rich and poor) if they would object to adding Grade 7 to elementary school and 70% said they wanted the extra year, with the figure constant across economic classes and across geographical regions. Parents clearly want children in public schools to have a longer basic education cycle. (To be continued)
By Isagani Cruz | Updated September 30, 2010 - 12:00am
Changing a curriculum is a very complicated process. It is not just a matter of adding a subject here and removing a subject there. It is not even just a process of revising a particular syllabus or updating it or using a different teaching strategy.
In order to understand how complicated designing a curriculum is, let us take a simple example.
In what year of the educational cycle should we teach human reproduction? Clearly, we cannot wait until students are 18 years old, because they could legally get married by that time. On the other hand, to take a non-controversial method encouraged by the Catholic Church, there is no point teaching the rhythm method to children who have not yet reached puberty. How old should children be when we discuss anatomy and physiology in class? What grade level would they be in when they are at that age?
Here you can see that the issue of whether a child should be in Grade 1 at age 4, 5, or 6 involves looking ahead to the time they will become parents. For the sake of the example, let us say we decide that we should teach family planning to 17-year-olds. In the current cycle with six-year-olds in Grade 1, the children would likely be in Second Year College. In the planned 12-year cycle, they would be in the last year of High School. Who will worry about responsible parenthood? DepEd or CHED? We immediately face pedagogical and bureaucratic issues.
When should students learn about pedophilia? When should they learn about the ethical implications of premarital sex, contraception, and abortion? In fact, we would have to decide a prior question: should schools teach human reproduction at all or should we leave it all up to parents or to human instinct? Even more prior than that is the philosophy of teaching: are teachers surrogate parents? (In the old days, we called that “in loco parentis,” or taking the place of parents whose children are in school.)
If we expand the topic a bit, we would have to decide when to take up issues such as overpopulation, stem cell research, divorce, even citizenship and nationalism (should pregnant women try to migrate to the US in order to have their children born Americans?).
That is only one of several areas of learning that we have to worry about when we design a curriculum.
Unfortunately for teachers, the world is rapidly changing. Technology and climate change are only two of the major factors why teachers cannot merely pass on to their students what they learned when they themselves were in school. Before the 21st century, the Department of Education (DepEd) would take ten years or so to change the curriculum. Today, a curriculum, no matter how well put together, becomes outdated in much earlier than ten years.
When a curriculum becomes outdated, we (not just teachers, but also parents and students) have to get together to revise it. There are many steps we have to take.
For example, we have to begin by figuring out which elements of the current curriculum are already outdated.
Let us take another simple example – the curriculum for teaching English to Filipinos. There have been a number of major changes in the English language itself. For one thing, linguists now recognize several major varieties of English, including Philippine English. (Several books on Philippine English have been published, including a dictionary.) There is now no “standard English” that may be said to be universally correct. (A simple example is “Ateneo beat FEU,” which is correct in the UK but wrong in the USA. In case it is the other way around this afternoon, make that “FEU beat Ateneo.”)
Linguists have also realized that usage has changed a lot of old grammatical rules. A simple example is the previously ungrammatical “Everyone had their own idea,” which is considered today as perfectly correct. The older form, “Everyone had his own idea,” is now considered unacceptable, due to its implication that women are not part of the human race.
Because we have to teach according to what we know, we cannot teach English the way we used to. We have to change minimum learning competencies, lesson plans, examinations, outcomes, textbooks, even teacher training, because research forces us to do so. We also cannot change just the teaching of English in college. We have to change the teaching of English at the elementary and high school levels, because we cannot teach Grade 6 students that “his” refers to both male and female and then tell them when they reach college that we lied.
That is just English. Also changing rapidly today is the way we should be teaching Filipino, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, and so on. (To be continued)
TEACHING TIP OF THE WEEK. Here is an activity recommended by the University of California, San Diego:
“Student-Generated Questions: Ask students to provide questions for discussion. These can be written out beforehand, or generated in brief small group sessions during class. Such questions can also be the basis for review sessions. In science or math classes, students can create problems for each other to solve, which helps them understand key concepts behind problem-solving techniques.”
By Isagani Cruz | Updated October 7, 2010 - 12:00am
Revising a curriculum is no easy task.
After we find out which parts of the curriculum have to be changed, we have to structure the entire curriculum. It is like decorating a room. Let us say that you want to put up a painting on a wall. You have to remove whatever is on that wall, make sure that the pieces of furniture in the room do not clash with the colors in the painting, move your armchair a bit nearer or farther away from the painting in order to be able to view it properly, and so on. You cannot change one small part of something without thinking about the entire thing.
We also cannot change the curriculum in midstream. We cannot suddenly tell Fourth Year high school students that they will not graduate because they have to take Fifth Year. Ethically, schools and students agree on an unwritten contract that the curriculum at the time of enrolment will be the same curriculum at the time of graduation. This is the reason the Department of Education (DepEd) introduces a new curriculum only after ten or more years. DepEd has to wait until those already in Grade 1 graduate from high school (after the present ten years of basic education). A completely new curriculum can be imposed only on those coming in as Grade 1.
Under certain circumstances, it is possible to revise only the high school curriculum. Even in this case, we have to wait until those already in First Year have finished Fourth Year (under the present system).
After drawing up a curriculum on paper (including such things as expected competencies, prerequisites, qualifications, learning areas, scope, coverage, and outcomes), curriculum designers have to think about the textbooks and other instructional materials that will have to be created for the new or revised subjects. Although teacher training is a separate process, curriculum designers also have to give pointers on how teachers should be trained to handle the subjects. There also has to be some way to determine if and when the curriculum needs to be revised; this is called program assessment or evaluation.
Before full implementation, there usually is a year-long pilot to debug the curriculum, as well as a longer transition period within which some students will be following the old curriculum and some following the new.
In short, changing the curriculum cannot be done haphazardly or quickly. It will take some time to get students to follow the new curriculum, particularly one that will take 12 years rather than ten.
It is not just a matter of spreading out the ten-year curriculum into 12 years. It is also not just a matter of adding new subjects in the two additional years. Curriculum design is holistic and comprehensive. It has to be rational and deliberate. Otherwise, as the opponents of President Aquino’s plan to extend the basic education cycle say, we will just be adding two more years of bad education.
The rapid changes in the world have made curriculum design even more difficult. We have to revise the subjects according to what our students will face 12 years from now. As the Web video “Did You Know?” puts it, “we are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist.”
DepEd’s enhanced curriculum aims to meet the overall objective of preparing children for productive work, either as employees or entrepreneurs, while maintaining its current academic thrust.
The DepEd model includes, among other things, the introduction of work-related subjects across the curriculum, the establishment of special Science Sections and Arts Sections, the offering of specialized subjects (such as Agriculture, Fisheries, IT, Security, Sports, and others) for those with no aptitude nor desire to continue to college, and the bringing down to the high school level of several subjects now offered as part of the General Education Curriculum of CHED (such as English, Filipino, General Science, and Math, including Calculus). In short, DepEd is not going to have two more years of the same, but 12 revitalized years of 21st century education.
By the way, I wrote this column before Secretary Armin Luistro unveiled the official DepEd plan last Tuesday (my deadline was Monday). I based my previous columns, as well as this one, on earlier drafts of the DepEd plan. I will write about the official plan in future columns.
TEACHING TIP OF THE WEEK. Here’s a teaching tip from the British Council:
“Keep in tune with the class. Don’t just glide along with the best. If one student answers your questions this is not proof that all the others are following what is being discussed. Aim for responses from as wide a sample as possible. Don’t just accept answers from the three or four class leaders or you will leave the rest behind.”
Good students will learn whether teachers teach them well or not. The test of a good teacher is whether poor students become good students by the end of a term or year.
RETURN TO THE 18TH CENTURY: There is still time to visit the Galleon Andalucia, a replica of an 18th-century galleon. It is docked at Pier 13 at the South Harbor, where the public can board it (until Saturday) and see what life must have been like for the first OFWs.
By Isagani Cruz | Updated November 18, 2010 - 12:00am
DepEd has realized that “the congested curriculum partly explains the present state of education.” Twelve years of content are crammed into ten years. Other countries teach in 12 or more years what we are forced to teach in only 10 years. Students do not have time to understand what they are learning, but are forced simply to memorize facts at breakneck speed. As a result, we always score dismally in international tests in mathematics and science.
Opponents of the plan, on the other hand, argue that quantity does not mean quality. As one editorial writer put it, we need better education, not more education. What is wrong with the present curriculum, these critics say, is not that it is congested but that it is misguided. As far as the curriculum is concerned, DepEd should fix the current subjects instead of adding new ones.
In a debate, one takes extreme positions, but in real life, nothing is completely white nor completely black. The truth lies somewhere in between.
To correlate “worse or better” to “less or more” is simply not to know English. These two pairs of words are apples or oranges, or to localize the idiom, bananas and papayas.
Let me take a simple example taken from our national passion. If you put LeBron James and Kobe Bryant (or alternatively, James Yap and Asi Taulava) playing as one team (yes, just two of them) and five of our high school basketball players on the other team, I can bet you Manny Pacquiao’s tax payments that the dynamic duo will outscore the younger team by dozens of points. On the other hand, if you let two of our best high school players play five professional American or Filipino players, I can bet you the entire bank accounts of everybody in the BIR’s list of top taxpayers that these two, no matter how talented, will not outscore the professionals.
In other words, quantity has nothing to do with quality. More can be worse or better, just as less or few can be worse or better.
For the sake of those that hate basketball, let me take an even simpler example. Give me two pieces of bread, one of which is freshly baked, the other a week old. The one freshly baked can be very small, but it will definitely be better than the other one, no matter how big that other one is. On the other hand, I would love to have a bigger piece of the one freshly-baked, rather than a smaller piece of the stale one. Again, quantity is independent of quality.
Ten years of bad education are better than 12 years of bad education, but worse than 10 or 12 years of good education. Twelve years of good education are better than ten years of good education and better than 10 or 12 years of bad education. If that confuses you, do not despair, because it confused the editorial writer, who is supposed to be more intelligent than newspaper readers.
In fairness (as we Filipinos say), DepEd has not been given enough time to explain properly what it means by “congested curriculum.” A curriculum is not something that you expand like a rubber band that can hold 12 or 12 sheets of paper. Take an example from 3rd year High School or Grade 9. You should not teach Rizal’s Noli to both Grades 9 and 10 just because you want to decongest the curriculum. Instead, you might decide to have Grade 11 students read the whole novel rather than just a summary of it (which is what usually happens today).
What DepEd is doing right now is redesigning the curriculum from Kindergarten to Grade 12. That means doing away with the some subjects altogether, recasting other subjects, and adding new ones. A simple example has to do with reading. Before Noynoy became president, DepEd wanted to make every child a reader by Grade 3. Noynoy promised to make every child a reader by Grade 1. This means that lessons meant for Grade 3 now have to be given in Grade 1, and Grade 2 will have to change its entire reading curriculum, since every pupil will already know how to read.
Tomorrow, at FUSE, I am hosting the Second Curriculum Summit, with participants from DepEd, CHED, TESDA, DSWD, ECCDC, other government agencies, public and private schools, and business organizations. The Summit hopes to come up with a grid that will map the curriculum from pre-school to graduate school. Quality will be the order of the day, not quantity. (To be continued)
TEACHING TIP OF THE WEEK. The teaching training program of Waseda University in Tokyo was adopted by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. This is the account by Kazuyuki Sakatsume: “In this program, our philosophy was the following: ‘Training for teachers should be on a par, or better than, training for doctors.’ Moreover, we set as our goal the cultivation of highly expert teachers who would be able to make an educational ‘diagnosis’ of (understand) a child, to formulate a ‘prescription’ (teaching plan) based on sound premises, and to implement concrete and effective ‘treatment’ (coaching or instruction).”
By Isagani Cruz | Updated November 25, 2010 - 12:00am
One of the objections raised against DepEd’s K+12 plan is its supposedly disastrous effect on Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).
The argument goes this way. If two years will be added to basic education, HEIs will not have freshmen for two years, because students will be stuck in Grades 11 and 12 or Senior High School (SHS). Private HEIs will go bankrupt without two new batches of tuition-paying students.
At first glance, the argument seems correct, because First Year College right now is, in effect, Grade 11 (after Fourth Year High School, which is Grade 10). Since Grades 11 and 12 (the latter would be Second Year College in today’s system) will be taken over by DepEd, private HEIs will have no freshmen and sophomores for two years and decreased enrolment for juniors and seniors afterwards.
The problem with this argument is that it is simplistic. It assumes that all college-bound students leaving Grade 10 will go to SHS and that HEIs have no role to play in SHS.
In the K+12 plan, students leaving Grade 10 may go directly to college if they wish to. HEIs are constitutionally guaranteed academic freedom, which includes the freedom to choose who to teach. Any HEI may, at its discretion, take anyone with any kind of educational background. Of course, for the sake of argument, if an HEI takes a Grade 6 student as a freshman (I hate the more politically correct but ugly-sounding words “froshie” or “freshperson”), the student will suffer not only academically, but socially. There are, however, a number of famous cases where world-ranked universities have taken child geniuses as students. (The TV series Doogie Howser was based on such real-life cases.)
In the first two years of the implementation of SHS, in other words, there will still be some students going to HEIs. These students need not be geniuses, although HEIs would be happy with those. They could simply be students eager to go to college. This is not, however, the real reason that the fear of HEIs is exaggerated.
HEIs have a role to play in DepEd’s plan.
First of all, DepEd does not plan to build new classrooms and to hire new teachers for all the students in SHS. Instead, it plans to rely on the cooperation of HEIs, particularly State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) and Local Universities and Colleges (LUCs). These SUCs and LUCs have the classrooms that can be used by SHS students. Since there is an SUC or an LUC in every municipality or province, students do not have to travel far from their homes to attend classes. Teachers of General Education (GE) subjects in these SUCs and LUCs can be tapped to teach SHS, since many of the subjects will be the subjects currently in the GE Curriculum (GEC).
What about private HEIs, which make up the bulk of colleges and universities?
We have to distinguish between those private HEIs that offer basic education and those that do not. Those that already hold high school classes on their campuses or on extension campuses need only to reassign their GE teachers to SHS. Since it is illegal to decrease the remuneration of any employee, current GE teachers need not worry about their salaries. They just have to get rid of the idea that a college teacher has more prestige than a high school teacher. This idea of college being superior to high school is precisely the prejudice that the K+12 plan is fighting against.
The problem really lies with private HEIs that do not have a high school department. There are not very many of these purely tertiary HEIs, but since the minority still has to be protected even if the majority has been provided for, we have to face the problem. There will, indeed, be displacement of GE teachers in these purely tertiary private HEIs. That cannot be denied. That is the downside of the K+12 plan.
Many private HEIs, particularly the smaller ones, however, offer salaries lower than those of DepEd teachers. It would be to the personal advantage of GE teachers in these HEIs to move to DepEd. That is a win-win situation, because these teachers have a better grasp of content than the current teachers in DepEd.
The problem, then, is confined to the bigger purely tertiary private HEIs. This is where the Coordinating Council for Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA) gets into the picture. (To be continued)
READER RESPONSE. A reader suggests this formulation of the goals of basic education: “A reformed basic education as proposed should provide a high school graduate with adequate knowledge and skills (1) to gain meaningful employment, (2) to start a business / to be self-employed, or (3) to pursue higher education. Put this way, you affirm the value of high school education (i.e., truly foundational) for the three scenarios: getting a job, starting a business / being self-employed, or going on to college.” I love it when citizens start thinking seriously of helping rather than criticizing DepEd.
TEACHING TIP OF THE WEEK. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) recommends that teachers should talk to other teachers that teach the same subject to “share notes, ideas, and other important information.” In this age of collaborative learning, teachers should do collaborative teaching.
By Isagani Cruz | Updated December 2, 2010 - 12:00am
Most, if not all, private schools in the Philippines are members of one or more of the following professional associations: Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities (PACU), Philippine Association of Private Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAPSCU), Association of Christian Schools, Colleges and Universities (ACSCU), and Technical-Vocational Association of the Philippines (TEVSAPHIL).
These associations, in turn, compose an umbrella organization called the Coordinating Council for Private Educational Associations (COCOPEA). COCOPEA may, therefore, be considered as the communal voice of private education.
Even before the election of President Noynoy Aquino, COCOPEA actively campaigned for an “Education President,” a term meant to force presidential candidates to explicitly state what they were going to do if they got into power. Only the Liberal Party, spearheaded by Aquino, seriously took up COCOPEA’s challenge and, in fact, formulated a ten-point educational agenda to answer the organization’s own ten demands. Before and after his election, Aquino outlined his plans for education, including extending basic education by two years.
COCOPEA members then and now may be said to be solidly behind Aquino’s educational agenda. These members were, in fact, among the first to help DepEd formulate K+12. They were, in particular, instrumental in convincing DepEd to shift from its original plan of 7+5 to the current plan of 6+4+2.
COCOPEA currently plays two roles in K+12. First, it conducts regional consultations to find out how its members can help flesh out the government’s program. Second, its members participate in the Technical Working Groups (TWGs) organized by DepEd to plan how to implement the program.
All concerns of private Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) about K+12 are taken up in the consultations and the TWG meetings. Since they are part of the planning process, private HEIs cannot be said to be against the plan. In fact, they are helping ease the transition from today’s inadequate basic education cycle to K+12.
Since schools are part of the planning process, since parents (according to an SWS survey that found out that 70% of parents do not object to extending basic education), since Filipino and foreign employers have made it clear that they expect our educational system to follow international standards, and most important of all, since President Aquino and DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro have the political will to make the change happen, there is no longer any doubt that we will have a 12-year basic education cycle in less than a decade.
ARE YOU MORE INTELLIGENT THAN FIRST GRADERS? Here is a multiple-choice question from a Grade 1 test in the USA: “The form of reproduction in which cells from two parents unite to form a zygote is: (a) asexual reproduction, (b) primary reproduction, (c) sexual reproduction, (d) monerans.” Who says six-year-olds are too young to know where babies come from?
TEACHING TIP OF THE WEEK. From Australia comes this excellent tip about teachers who use PowerPoint or similar presentation software: “Plan your lessons so they are interactive and not just ‘u-beaut’ presentations. Often this takes more time and more thought, but your students will appreciate it.”
One of the modern pedagogical superstitions we have is that, if you have an audiovisual presentation, you are a better teacher than your colleague who uses “mere” books or the blackboard. On the contrary, we must remember that the greatest teachers of all time (Confucius, Buddha, Socrates, Jesus, Muhammad) did not need PowerPoint to make people change their lives. Instead, they all relied on the power of words.
There is nothing wrong with using an LCD projector in class. In fact, many students now expect their teachers to use such basic instructional tools. What is wrong is if the audiovisual presentation is seen as the be-all and end-all of a lesson. There are even teachers that merely read out whatever is on the screen! They would do better just emailing their presentations to their students and not wasting the students’ time and money coming to campus.
Instead, you should use the screen the way you would use a blackboard. You would never write out everything you say in class on a blackboard. You would never rely completely on what you can write out on the blackboard. In fact, in many classes, particularly mathematics classes, students spend a lot of time writing on their own on the blackboard.
Students cannot “write” on the PowerPoint file, but they should be allowed to. Think of ways to get students to react, comment, criticize, redo your own presentation. Let them interact with the presentation. Put questions on your slides rather than answers. Allow them to use your laptop and fool around with your slides.
Remember that the role of teachers today is no longer that of a transmitter of knowledge. The Web can do that much better than you can. Your role is to teach your students to be better human beings. Jesus took five loaves of bread and two fish and fed a crowd, not just literally but spiritually. As a mere human, you may need more than pan de sal and bangus, but not necessarily PowerPoint, Flash, Keynote, Impress, or other software to teach. PowerPoint helps but does not substitute for your clear voice, your alert mind, and your caring heart.
By Isagani Cruz | Updated December 16, 2010 - 12:00am
The issue of plagiarism is not as simple as teachers would like their students to believe.
There is plagiarism, and there is plagiarism.
There is the kind of plagiarism that is anathema. Plagiarists of the first kind are set up as examples of how not to write research papers, ostracized by the academic community, ridiculed by peers, refused tenure or awards, demonized by history.
On the other hand, there is the kind of plagiarism that is canonized. Plagiarists of the second kind are set up as examples of how to write literary masterpieces, lionized by the academic community, envied by peers, tenured and awarded, immortalized by history.
Corresponding to these two kinds of plagiarism are two schools of thought about plagiarism.
There is the simplistic view of plagiarism. This is the view that teachers force upon students, other teachers, and the community at large. This is a view shared by almost everyone, including all of the lawyers and professors that have condemned the recent Supreme Court decision. Let us call this view the Absolute Theory of Plagiarism.
On the other hand, there is the complex view of plagiarism. This is the view that many young writers and some old critics in the international literary community today espouse. Let us call this view the Relative Theory of Plagiarism.
The Absolute Theory is really simple and strict. Plagiarism, as defined by Plagiarism.org, is “the use of another’s original words or ideas as though they were your own.” In this theory, plagiarism is a lie, a crime, a sin, because it is a form of stealing. One should not steal someone else’s words and ideas, because words and ideas are intellectual property, owned by whoever first said or wrote them down.
In the Absolute Theory, you are not allowed to copy the idea, even if the words are all different, of an author (whether alive or dead) without naming the author. (Copyright violation is less strict, because it involves only authors still alive or who died less than 70 years ago.) To avoid the charge of plagiarism, all you have to do is to attribute, footnote, endnote, cite, link, or otherwise make it clear that what you are saying or writing are not your own words or ideas.
Suppose you were a student and you wrote this sentence without referring to Shakespeare: The typical Filipino does not know whether to be or not to be.
A strict teacher would tell you to put quotation marks on the phrase that you borrowed from Shakespeare’s “To be, or not to be: that is the question.” The teacher would be happy if you wrote the sentence this way: The typical Filipino does not know whether “to be or not to be.”
A stricter teacher would insist that you put a citation even if you already used quotation marks. Your sentence would then be something like this: The typical Filipino does not know whether ‘to be or not to be” (William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1).
The strict and the stricter teacher may forgive you for writing the following sentence, but not the strictest teacher: The typical Filipino does not know whether to follow his conscience or to accept or give bribes like everyone else in government and business.
It is the idea, not the words, that should not be borrowed, the strictest teacher would say. The idea is exactly the same as Shakespeare’s, although the words are different. You should then, the strictest teacher would say, mention that Shakespeare thought of the idea before you did. Your sentence would then read: As Shakespeare anticipated in Hamlet, the typical Filipino does not know whether to follow his conscience or to accept or give bribes like everyone else in government and business.
In the Absolute Theory, intention has nothing to do with plagiarism. By not mentioning Shakespeare and Hamlet, you have committed plagiarism, whether you intended to steal the idea of Shakespeare or not, whether you read Hamlet, whether you even realized that what you were expressing was not original but an idea long attributed to the greatest playwright the world has ever known, whether you were so naïve or so egoistic that you actually thought that you could fashion an original thought never expressed by one or more of the millions of thinkers and writers that lived before you were born.
It is irrelevant if you innocently or maliciously intended to pass off as your own thought somebody else’s thought. The only thing relevant is that your sentence itself is a copy, albeit couched in another way, of somebody else’s idea.
I must admit that, in my early days as a teacher and writer, I used to adhere to the Absolute Theory. I would repeat the mantra of teachers of term paper writing, namely, “Footnote! Footnote! Footnote!” Sometime in my 40 years of teaching and writing, however, I started to tinker with the thought that the Relative Theory of Plagiarism might not be as silly as it seems and might even have its merits. The reason has to do with the digital revolution, more particularly, Web 2.0.