Fernando: Marginalization of some academic subjects


NOT all learning areas are given equal footing in the academe. Both teachers and students have their perceived major subjects. Perceived major subjects are surely enjoy some privileges like more serious consideration from students and allotment of significant time for the teaching and learning process. On one hand, minor subjects are sometimes not taken seriously. This issue subject perception is being addressed by the new curriculum through eradicating the differing units per subject. The idea however continues to persist.

The idea of marginalization concept is not new to education. The inkling that some subjects are accorded lesser importance is felt and experienced by teachers. One study that brought out the concept of subject marginalization is the study of Nompula (2013) entitled "The Marginalization of Arts Education: Optimization of Teaching Time Limitation."

The author states that one indication of this marginalization is the reduced time of teaching time compared to the other subjects. There is restricted time allotted to the subject. This restriction implies that the subject is not as important with those subjects which has more time allotment. Also, there are cases where the subject is assigned to untrained volunteer teachers, thereby diminishing the reputation and long-term impact of arts education on future generations (Nompula, 2013).

This was seconded by a study conducted in Australia where Garvis (2010) found that his student teachers were disillusioned when they found a general lack of support for the arts in schools and generalist teachers with little or no subject expertise teaching the arts. He contends that the use of generalist teachers for a specialized subject reduces the importance and educational impact learners receive, thereby neglecting one important component of their learning.

Rabkin and Hedberg (2011) found that the decline in arts education in schools directly impacted on the deterioration of classical music and the arts industry in adulthood, resulting in poor concert and arts exhibition attendance and a decline in jobs in the arts and music industry.

Aside from Arts, Social study as a subject decries too of being discriminated or marginalized. In a statement from an article online, it wrote: "The juxtaposition of the 2012 national elections and the marginalization of social studies/citizenship education in the pre-K-12 school curriculum has been both coincidental, and, in a way, an opportunity for us -- social studies teachers, supervisors, and teacher educators -- to find ways to restore creative classroom instruction about history, government, citizenship, and social studies to equality in the curriculum" (Risinger, 2012).

In another research, Special Education as a subject is complaining the same cold treatment. Both in elementary schools and in high schools, general teachers are the ones who are in charge of large groups of mixed-ability students and who are responsible for teaching a subject or a particular group of subjects.

Often there are two or three other teachers teaching the same grade level or subject area. Through activities such as grade team or departmental meetings, these teachers have an opportunity to get support, advice, new ideas, and encouragement from similarly minded professionals. In comparison to the general teacher, the special educator is often excluded from this normative setting.

Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao (|EsP) in my experience suffer similar predicaments. Comparing to other subjects which have 4 to 5-hour meeting time in a week, EsP has only 2 hours. The lack of solid perception of values education is also one of the major obstacles for the subject to develop its identity like Science and Mathematics subjects. In his study of Muega (2010), he found that the Filipino schoolteachers have different conceptions of Values/Moral Education which is a real problem. These three ideas are religious values transmission, nonreligious values transmission and critical thinking about values.

Awareness that the idea of subject marginalization exists can be the first step to address this. Students learning of topics in particular learning areas can be affected by their perception of the subjects' importance. Treating a subject as a minor will also lead to the subject's marginalization. All learning areas are important hence they should all be given sufficient attention. We aim for the holistic development of students not their unbalanced growth.


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