These are tough times for Philippine education. Much like its American counterpart, the DepEd continues to parry the slings and arrows of critics as it unfurled early this year the K-12 banner that is supposed to save the Philippines from mediocrity. It has weathered the storms of dismal TIMS scores and UbD, but can it survive the onslaught of the likes of everyone from esteemed UP scientists to parents horrified at the prospect of 2 additional years in high school?
Veritas has not been sleeping under a rock while all this is happening. We have done our research well in anticipation of K-12. We know it will happen, as it is already happening around the world. We are preparing our 6-year-olds to skip the Prep level and hopscotch their way to Grade 1, through intensive readiness programs in Reading, Math and Filipino. DepEd may insist on using the mother tongue (in our part of the Philippines that would be Tagalog) in the early grades to teach all subjects, but we decided to continue teaching in English.Like we do on a yearly basis, we revisit the curriculum of grade school and high school, redirect certain things, and innovate. Next school year, we will give a name for the flagship English program that has brought our students so much linguistic confidence and proficiency: Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL), where English is not just a subject, but a learning methodology of Math, Science, Social Studies and the Arts. The CLIL framework is popular amongst European countries where demonstrable gains in student engagement and progress have been reported. In Veritas, we have actually been implementing CLIL, with English as the second language used to make meaning in other school subjects. Our choice of English textbooks-- Voyages in English (Loyola Press), English in Mind (Cambridge University Press), Grammar and Composition (Prentice-Hall)--and our teachers' dedication to using the language, have motivated students to use the English language more. Authentic, communicative, high interest books for the English subject have effectively contextualized learning for our students. For the Reading strand of English, we are finalizing a deal with the world's largest publisher of books for children and young adults to provide us with scientifically sound Reading programs---and tons of books, of course--that will ensure that everyone is reading, and reading well.
We will also be teaching Science in the first and second grades. Kids are never too young to explore and discover.
CLIL shall also set the stage for Foreign Languages learning tentatively starting in 2012-2013. The FL program includes Language and Culture clubs, direct communicative instruction, and in the near future, student exchange programs. Target languages include Mandarin, Korean,Spanish, French and Italian. Studies are consistent on the importance of foreign language in the curriculum: students generally become better citizens of the world--more sensitive to the needs of others, more responsible for their actions, more open to advocate for something they believe in, more sure of themselves and what they can do.
These are exciting times for Veritas. Changes are coming, and they are all for the better.
I'd like to share these slides made by Sam Gliksman, a proponent of the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) system in schools. We all know that Veritas, as in many other schools in Manila, ban the use of cellphones and other electronic gadgets and devices in school. While the ban stays in place, I'd like to take a long, hard look at this policy, and perhaps look at the other side of the coin: What if we allow the devices to be brought in school for EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES? I can think of many such uses: filming a documentary, accessing e-books, using periodic table and trigonometric apps, recording music...students can certainly add to this list. But as the slides suggest, clear policies have to be drafted in order for the policy to work. At this point in time, technology must be seen as a friend, and not as an enemy. A schoolwide effort to make this happen is a necessity, and if things fall into place--parents, admin, teachers and students agree on the guidelines--we can actually star the BYOD scheme next school year. Now, that is really a move we could call, FTW!