Editorial: Making classrooms dynamic

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Sunday, June 1, 2014


EVERY June, the opening of schools is overshadowed by a plague of the usual suspects.

The increase of tuition and other fees besets students and their families who find the quality of private education increasingly beyond their reach.

For school year 2014-15, 196 private preschool, elementary and secondary schools in Central Visayas were allowed by the Department of Education (DepEd) to raise tuition and other fees by an average of seven to eight percent.

Students driven to no other option except public education bear with congestion and inadequate classrooms. The perennial shortage of classrooms is worsened this year by the destruction of school facilities by the earthquake last October and super typhoon Yolanda in November. Many temporary classrooms put up after the storm need repair or replacement.

Sufficient?

DepEd officials said that “alternative modes of teaching” will be used to address the congestion in some schools in Central Visayas or Region 7.

Educators assure that the quality of education will be maintained. This hardly boosts confidence since public education, under the best of circumstances, is already compromised by many factors.

How will a student who is underweight and listless be motivated to learn or even just concentrate in a classroom shared by two classes? A divider may split a classroom so it can be physically occupied by two batches of students at the same time.

Yet, not having enough space, ventilation and light may prevent a teacher from conducting a class in an interactive manner.

“Lectures don’t work… and results in lower student performance, especially in science,” reported Rappler.   

Shortchanged

Due to the lack of classrooms, DepEd’s schemes include alternate scheduling that will have one class using a classroom in the morning; another in the afternoon. For Central Visayas, a three-day school week is being considered.

In Luzon is a plan to have students attend only weekend classes.

DepEd officials say that these alternative modes of teaching will “cover the budget of work under the curriculum.”

Yet, will students learn?

According to a Stanford University large-scale study published in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy in the US (PNAS), traditional teaching methods lag behind active learning in getting students to connect to the topic being discussed.

Traditional methods include long monologues by teachers, where students are limited to listening, copying what’s written on the board or taking a photo of the teacher’s board notes.

The same Rappler article quoted the findings of the PNAS paper that traditional methods have a 34-percent average failure rate, compared to the 22 percent for active methods. “Score tests also increased half as much in favor of active learning method,” wrote Rappler’s Maria Isabel Garcia.

For a teacher to encourage dynamic learning—students discuss and solve problems in tandems or groups, students and teachers exchange questions and feedback—he or she needs classroom space for moving around; tables and chairs that can be rearranged; and absence of external noise and distractions.

Aside from educators’ responsibility to nurture students and provide the quality education their families worked and scrimped for, the education system must meet the challenges created by the K to12 system and the Asean integration by 2015.

After graduation, K to 12 senior high school graduates should be able to find worthwhile and dignified employment if they decide not to pursue college. Education will also give Filipinos the edge to compete in and benefit optimally from the Asean Economic Community in 2015.

These are aspirations worth raising our expectations and efforts to move beyond the perennial shortage of classrooms and its legacy of learning apathy, failure and curtailed futures.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 02, 2014.

Opinion

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