CAN a college lecturer switch to high school?

That’s a possibility facing hundreds of college teachers when senior high school begins in 2016. The implementation of the K to 12 enhanced basic education curriculum will keep junior high school students from graduating and entering college.

From 2016 to 2017, the first batch of senior high school students will still be in grades 11 and 12. Given the expected drop in college enrolment starting 2016, teachers in higher education institutions and technical-vocational institutions are prioritized by law for hiring in secondary schools.

Under Republic Act (RA) 7836 implemented in 1994, those qualified to teach in elementary and high school are only education graduates who passed the Licensure Examination for Teachers (LET).

The creation of the additional two years of senior high school imposes a higher demand for LET passers. To enable high schools to have their needed teachers, there is a relaxation of the RA 7836 rule. Non-LET passers are required to pass the LET within five years after their hiring so they can continue to teach full-time.

These are the transitions envisioned for 2016, reported the Philippine Daily Inquirer last Feb. 3, 2013.

Seen in this light, the shifting around of teachers seems as elementary as changing classrooms. Upon reexamination, though, things don’t seem to be as simple.

To be qualified for the primary grades, a generalist education degree is needed. To teach high school, the degree must be specific to the subject one is teaching.

In addition, there are two different approaches to teaching. Pedagogy is child-centered while andragogy is focused on the adult learner.

Given the complexity of molding young minds, pedagogy is also focused on teaching the teachers. It lays down the techniques for mentoring even as it structures the content comprising the foundation of learning.

Many of those who instruct college undergraduates are not even required to have a formal background in andragogy. The basic requirement to teach in college is an academic and professional background, preferably specialization, in the area one is teaching.

What will happen when a college instructor handles high school students? Can a teacher used to working with adults be effective in connecting with and motivating children, preteens and teens, the last categorized as young adults in theory but infinitely more complex in reality?

One who has been preparing undergraduates to join the job market brings some advantages in senior high school. Under the K to 12 system, senior high school students are supposed to have the skill sets that will get them hired if they don’t choose to proceed to college after graduation.

When I was studying and then teaching in college, a common complaint was the number of General Education subjects required before an undergraduate could proceed to the majors that taught specific theories and skills needed to get a job.

For many students and the families that depend on them, a college degree is one’s insurance to security. The Arts, Sciences and Humanities viewed by educators as essential for providing a well-rounded send-off to a life of learning that should continue after graduation are viewed as a burden and added expense by those who see education only as a prerequisite for work.

Can a college instructor bridge the expectations of humanizing and retooling middle school students? They should.

This requires changing the teaching mindset, a maneuver more intricate than switching classrooms. Teaching high school, a college instructor needs to acquire pedagogical and andragogical tools. In the junior high school years, pedagogy may still be relevant since the students are young enough to be guided by their teacher.

However, teacher-directed instruction will have less relevance in senior high school. The students will start flexing their independence and along with it, the desire to direct what they learn and the way to handle their problems and challenges.

If a teacher commits to accompanying the intellectual and personal journey of his or her students, he or she must see teaching as being more than a job between jobs. Many college instructors are part-timers. Some await the results of licensure exams or a better job offer. Others fit in teaching as a second or third means to pay bills.

For the K to 12 scheme to work, schools need to recruit more than LET passers or instructors for retooling. People with a vocation are prerequisites for 2016.

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