Friday, April 22, 2011


Two years ago it was Understanding by Design (UbD). Pricey seminars later, the furor has died down, and schools and teachers have stopped asking questions (well, they still have to design "Essential Questions" for Stage 1) and have accepted the fact that UbD will creep up the high school ladder (it's now on second year high school's door) until it reaches the 4th year. Or is it the 6th year?

Now, everyone is poised for K-12 (not K+12. Bro Armin Luistro wishes to correct the plus sign).Based on the Discussion Paper on the Enhanced K+12 Basic Education Program ( the Department of Education, universal Kinder will commence this school year 2011-2012. The K-6-4-2 model (see figure above) adds an International Baccalaureate-type framework intended to prepare graduates for tertiary level and workplace challenges.

Unlike most government-led proposals, this one I cannot diss at the moment. The intentions are noble, and the timing is perfect. It also assures us of consultations and collaborations with stakeholders, so for us in the private schools, this is a positive sign. The discussion paper preempts critics' claims by promising to do major pencil-pushing particularly on budget constraints and teacher-and-classroom-shortages. However, the October 2010 paper may be too late in mustering the education sector's forces, unless something is being done as I write this blog.

Certainly, I am all for two additional years in high school. Get those kids ripe and ready before releasing them to the west wind. From my modestly vast experience of dealing with high school graduation batches, I am loathe to say that only a handful coming down the stage with diplomas clenched in their fists are actually mature enough for the world's marketplace. When graduates step out into the sunshine, they're barely 16, or pushing 17. Developmentally, they are still wired to text all day, survey their friends' fb pages, go on an emo-trip, and other similar, seemingly mindless, often infuriating-to-us-old-timers pursuits. Guidance counselors in high schools know this and will understand. But will the Department Chair of Theology have the patience of a saint? Methinks not.

The key is in the curriculum. Two years is a lot to waste if the curriculum is a copycat of the first four. This is where I demand for collaboration with industry experts and practitioners in the Senior years (Year 11 and 12). Utang na loob, huwag na mag-insist na dapat LET-passers lang ang magtuturo sa levels na ito. Let engineers teach Physics, and Siliman University writers teach fiction writing. Textbook publishers had better step up too. Just browsing the recent crop of high school textbooks makes me shudder. No wonder the kids would rather play DOTA and search Google than stare at those boring, outdated textbooks.

The other key is in corruption-proofing the entire education system in the Philippines. Let the budgets flow where they should. Enough said.

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