IT IS admittedly urgent that educators come up with a system of holding classes online. Thus they can hardly be blamed for fussing about nothing else these days. Still, I wish they would take the time to address a more fundamental education issue.
The problem to tackle in virtual classes is mainly connectivity; one can simply teach the same subjects online, and in the same rote manner, as those in a real classroom. But barring a financial miracle there is no way we can afford to provide millions of poor children the needed gadgets. In that case, we might as well take one step back and ask the more fundamental question of how to educate the Filipino youth from here on, online or off.
Take the newly restored (thank God!) subject, GMRC (Good Manners and Right Conduct). How does one teach good manners? Having pupils memorize GMRC do’s and don’ts won’t cut it. GMRC is taught by example which, in either virtual or real classroom, only parents and/or guardians can provide.
Inhuman living conditions in the country indicate a need for a values-oriented education. But how do we inculcate values? Online or offline it cannot be done by memorizing textbook definitions. Our government officials graduated from the country’s best schools; but look where they are, at the bottom of the value scale causing people to suffer from their greed and corruption.
The pandemic-enforced break presents us with the rare opportunity of promoting and encouraging creative and critical thinking like by doing away with true-or-false and filling-the-blanks tests. Online teaching is the best place to require students to research the answers to questions and express their findings in a complete sentence or paragraph of their own words. That way we know they can think their way through a problem.
I breezed through elementary, high school and college on the wings of my memory because the idea was not so much to learn as to get good grades, pass final exams and move on to the next level. I didn’t start using my mind until I went to a school that informed you of your grade only if you fell below standard and needed to step on the gas mentally.
Grades kill the mighty dragon of creative and critical thinking and should be de-stressed if not taken out completely. To get good grades, obviously the be-all and end-all of our educational system, one doesn’t have to think but only regurgitate what the teacher has pounded on our memory cells.
We need creative and critical thinking Filipinos with sound moral values. Hence, more than answer how to conduct classes online, we should answer the more fundamental question of how to educate, online or offline, for creativity, critical thinking and a robust sense of moral values.