Back to school with K to 12

Today (6/4/12), almost 21 million public school students in the Philippines started going to school or went back to school.  Recent news reports stated that there have been challenges in implementing the K to 12 education program in the country.
An article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer indicated that the public schools are continuously plagued by such classic problems as lack of school facilities and lack of teachers. To date, I still find it hard to understand why the government has pushed through with this program though the fundamental needs of education have not been met. In my opinion, being the only country in Asia or even in the world without the K to 12 program is not a valid reason for implementing this educational system in the Philippines. One blogger even quoted the findings in the study conducted by TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study), which reveal that there is no correlation between the number of years a student stays in school vis-a-vis his/her academic performance.
Based on statistics, I believe that the Philippines is not yet ready for this type of program since that program does not address the basic problem in the Philippine education, which for me is sending all the Filipino children to school. According to the National Statistics Coordination Board (NSCB), the Philippines still looks sluggish in terms of net enrollment at the primary and secondary level. The NSCB reported in its website that a closer look at the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) on Achieving Universal Primary Education shows no siginificant increase in the enrollment of the elementary students within an 18-year period (from 84.1% in 1990 to 85.1% in 2008), which means it would be very difficult, if not impossible, for the Filipino children to have a 100% access to enter into the primary school.
I think that this K-12 program will only serve to widen the gap between the rich and the poor, since those families who have good financial resources can most likely afford to support their children to finish their schooling, while those families in the rural areas, or even those who live in the cities that are poor may not even have enough resources to pay for a full day’s meal, much more a pen or paper for an additional two years in the K to 12 program.
I would like to share a film clip with my readers – this was shown to me by Sister Angela of the Idente Missionaries, which I really found to be a true eye-opener. This concerns the plight of the children in Zamboanga and the daily hurdles they have to face just to go to school. It makes me wonder why the government’s focus has been directed at the K to 12 program, instead of these children who really need the government’s assistance and support.

See this clip

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Session 6: The story of Ron Clark in relation to WYP on Education

Today is Saturday, and we gathered again inside St. Peter’s Parish in Commonwealth, Quezon City for our fifth session of the World Youth Parliament, where we watched some excerpts of a film and had heard a presentation from one group.


I arrived late for about 20 minutes so I was in a hurry to catch up with the film THE RON CLARK STORY, as it was showed inside the conference room. Ironically, this was the first time I ever heard about this movie or even this person, even though I have been teaching already for five years. As soon as I found a place to sit down, the scenes in the film had immediately grabbed my attention. The movie reveals the innovative approaches of Ron Clark in teaching his students in one troubled school in Harlem, New York, which apparently can be challenging to many teachers like me.

I have researched about him on the net and I found that Clark’s contributions to education have been so significant that he was even interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in her own television show and she had given him grants for his own Academy.

Furthermore, I have read that this made-for-tv movie that we had just recently watched has already been shown in the Philippines, but with a more catchy title The Triumph.

In the conference, Sister Angela continuously showed us around 4-5 clips of the film that she intended to discuss afterwards, although I still would recommend the full length of movie to be watched. But for the meantime, taking clips from Youtube was a brilliant idea so we could get ourselves started in taking lessons from this film, such as reflecting on Clark’s character, that goes in line with Education as our topic for the World Youth Parliament. I have written below a short summary of the valuable insights I had on the film and the lessons we learned as a group:

First, we believe that students should always be kept motivated to appreciate their truest sense in this world — and that is to reach their fullest potential in their craft so they can contribute to the advancement of the society.

In the first movie clip, Ron Clark notices an Indian-looking girl whom he feels is not welcomed by her classmates. So he approached her after class and explained that she shouldn’t feel bad on how she sees herself different from others. Since the girl wanted to become a doctor someday, he even encourages her to pursue that dream and had even addressed her already as “doctor” after their conversation, which I found very endearing.

This lesson reminded me too of what Sister Rose told us last week (May 19, 2012) during our 5th Session in WYP. She stressed the importance of nailing down the quality of good relationship in education between teachers and students. During our discussion, the group found out that one of the qualities to establish or maintain a good relationship inside the classrooms is for teachers to be “keen on details” with his/her students. A teacher should easily spot the telltale signs if a student is having trouble coping in school (or even on the subject) and therefore should be addressed immediately. This clip has shown that value and it has reinforced to me the idea that teachers should really make an extra effort to reach to their students, personally (although with some limited boundaries) and professionally.(See clip here.)

Second, teachers should learn how to be creative in their ways of teaching the students so they could facilitate attention and interest with them, thus fostering a more genial relationship.

In the second clip, Ron Clark found that most of his students had failed in their exams. As a consequence he had planned to punish his students, not with failing grades, but through a dance music popular to them known as street rap. This clip had captivated me for quite a while because Clark’s profession as a teacher, which I expected to be formal, presented a different way of penalizing his students, to an extent that he was looking awkward and downright hilarious in front of them. But he still pursued his action with the goal in mind to teach his students, until he got all of the class to participate, eventually gaining their trust and cooperation.

I have realized in this film that passion can create wonders that could attract people. It may be silly for Clark performing these stunts as a teacher but looks can only be skin deep if one has a clear goal or objective in mind.

If I were to relate my experience of teaching from Clark’s in the Philippines, it’s always hard to go against traditional teaching methods, which in my case is more rigid because I am inclined to the health sciences. But sometimes, and I do agree in the film that the best way of teaching is just to let yourself go and to be a uncoventional at times. Because for a teacher to be creative, he should be simply open to new ideas and to go beyond his own comfort zones. (See clip below.)

Do you know Ron Clark? What can you say about his style of teaching? Can it be possible also in our country?

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One way of bringing our ideas into this world is through the use of media and writing (or blogging).  In writing, I am confident that I can express better what I have in mind since I really don’t talk that much, and public speaking sometimes can be daunting for anyone, as for myself.
Recently, I attended the World Youth Parliament (WYP) in the Philippines with the Idente Missionaries and some Filipino youths. This was my first time to participate in these sessions (the first one was held in 2011) and I found our activities to be really thought-provoking, as we tackled the social issues that were of interest to everybody. The idea was drafting guidelines for a social change to achieve a more humane society through the voices of the Filipino youth, applying the teachings of our Founding Father  Fernando Rielo to the Idente Youth to support our beliefs or cause.
On Day One, April 14, I was given some manuals and schedules for the succeeding WYP sessions. The manual included the Magna Carta of Values, which was drafted by the youth delegates from around the globe at the United Nations in New York in 2011. This would serve as the guideline for brainstorming ideas and for making our final decision when confronted with debatable topics. This year, the WYP is focusing on Education, and this serves as an initial step in confronting social issues with the goal of creating a “New Civilization” in the end. In addition, the weekly schedule was also provided to give us a bird’s eye view of what could be expected in the next couple of weeks until October 2012, where there would be a regional gathering of Asian delegates in Bangkok, Thailand.
It is in this belief that I think all our ideas should really be put into writing. The things that we discuss at the Parliament are so important that educators or students in our country who advocate social change, might find it worthwhile to read or, better yet, attend the gathering every Saturday noon at our Idente House in Don Antonio Village in Commonwealth, Quezon City. (Check Idente’s invitation for details: Invitation to the World Youth Parliament)
As a participant, I had the privilege to know Sr. Rose Calabreta of the Idente Missionaries. Her words did contribute to shaping my opinion and opened my eyes to the possibilities of making this program a success. I would like to thank also Sr. Fatima Aguayo and Sr. Angela Hadad, who came from Ecuador and Chile, respectively, for moderating our activities and for synthesizing our ideas at the end of each session.
Being a Filipino participant in this Parliament entails hard work and perseverance for our voice to be heard around the globe. But if this is the only way I can spread a legacy to future generations, then I am up for the challenge.
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