making lemonade

February 23, 2016

This is not to discuss the merits or detriments of adding two more years to the Philippine educational system but instead a prompt for reform.

My inclination is that at the end of each (of course, this depends on an institution’s constraints) academic quarter the students will be able to demonstrate a particular life skill. This can be developed in conjunction with the Department of Education, Culture and Sports (DECS) and identified professionals – who nominate a single skill that would prove invaluable to the individual. Aside from literacy and numeracy, these other skills can help the person navigate life “better”. I think we need to revisit the knowledge necessary to survive and thrive in the world today (and not just consider the industrial revolution).

This may be “tricky” to implement but, in my mind, worthwhile. Unlike the U.S. that can subsidise meals, we need to consider other options for a poor country like the Philippines to encourage student participation in schools instead of keeping them home to help. Sure, it may not be instant or obvious but children can be developed and encouraged to have the capacity AND (not exclusively or) the choice to help their parents.

This can not only lead to a more robust democracy but also assist the individual with their daily life. We need to do whatever we can to incentivise persons to participate in the educational system. School should me much more than acquiring a piece of paper.

School (specifically K to 12) must not only be viewed as a means to get into institutions of higher learning so one can eventually get a job but to arm individuals to face the “real” world. Education should not only be a status symbol but to help close the gap – in my humble opinion, total equality is unrealistic because we are still mammals and subject to hierarchy; the key is like Sutton & Pfeffer (both teach at Stanford) say, we should not only prize intelligence but wisdom too.

I’m advocating a portfolio approach instead of the more popular exams-based assessments. Sure we need to evaluate if students are learning but we can go about it more creatively as highlighted in Graham Brown-Martin’s book: “Learning Reimagined.” It may not be easy but I think it’s worth it to look at successful alternatives to traditional forms of learning and adapt them according to local needs.