Education and Home

The curriculum

MINI CRITIQUE - Isagani Cruz - The Philippine Star

Last week, I gave a general outline of what goes on in the K to 12 curriculum. Let us take three fictional children (Pedro, Pablo, and Maria) and see how each of them will go through the curriculum.

If they go to a private school, Pedro, Pablo, and Maria will most likely be taking Science as a subject in Grade 1. In a public school, science is integrated in all the other subjects. (The reasons for this difference are historical, not pedagogical, but we will tackle that issue – raised during the Senate hearings on the K to 12 bill – in some other column.)

Whether science is explicitly or implicitly taught, however, it will be taught in a spiral manner. That means that, as early as Grade 1, physics, statistics, and so on will be taught, but in such a small dose that pupils and parents will not even know that these are in the curriculum. In Grade 2, exactly the same topics will be taught, but on a little bit deeper level. Every grade level, the same topics will be tackled, but always from a broader or deeper perspective, until by the end of Grade 12, students will have such a sophisticated grasp of science that they will be ready for the research demanded by higher education.

The three children will take exactly the same subjects in exactly the same learning areas until they reach Grade 7. In Junior High School (JHS), they will start discovering what they are really good at (hence the word “Exploratory”). Schools will be very careful not to reinforce harmful societal stereotypes (Pedro and Pablo need not be wandering around the carpentry room while Maria handles the kitchenware). In our fictional story, let us suppose that Pedro wants eventually to open his own game development company, Pablo wants to become a professional football player, and Maria wants to become a mechanical engineer.

In JHS, Pedro will pay a lot of attention to the computer lessons offered by his school. He will be the class whiz when it comes to understanding software. He will be on all the social media. He will be borrowing (if he cannot afford them) all the latest gadgets of his classmates or neighbors. He can be found spending his weekends at an internet café, competing in online games.

Meanwhile, Pablo will spend a lot of time on the field, playing different types of sports. He will compete in just about every intramural sport. He might be in one or more of the school teams. He will definitely be the school’s bet to win a medal at the Palarong Pambansa.

Maria will spend time in the workshop of the school or, if the school does not have a workshop, in her neighborhood automotive or electronic shop. She will be reading the textbooks in mathematics and science avidly and will top all the school tests in those areas. She will spend time in the chemistry and physics laboratories of the school, watching older students do experiments.

The three children will not earn any special certificate after they finish Grade 8. When they get to Grade 9, however, they will be seriously pursuing a National Certificate (NC) given by the Technical Education and Skills Development Academy (TESDA). An NC is proof that a person possesses certain job-related skills. The higher the NC, the more advanced the skills. An NC 3, for example, usually qualifies a person for a supervisory or managerial position. The highest NC that can be attained by a Grade 12 graduate is normally only NC 2, which is enough to land a middle-level job in a corporation or even to set up a small business.

In Grade 9 and Grade 10, both Pedro and Maria, who share the same interest in information technology, will probably take subjects such as Basic Computer Operation, Computer Hardware Servicing, and Hardware and Software Troubleshooting. They will not have much time to spend on the computer, however, because they will still have to study the usual academic subjects.

Pablo will not be spending too much time in front of a computer for a different reason. He will be honing his physical abilities. He might even enrol in a Pasibulan clinic held by the Philippine Football Federation in cooperation with the Department of Education (DepEd). He knows that his height is no hindrance to his ambition to become a world-class football player; after all, Pelé is 5’8”, Messi is 5’6”, and Ribery is 5’7”.

Since he will not be playing football forever, however, Pablo will take a TESDA course that will take advantage of his traveling abroad when he does become a professional player. He will take Tourism Promotions Services, Tour Guiding Services, or courses of that type. Like Pedro and Maria, Pablo will earn an NC 1 by the time he finishes Grade 10.

You can see how different the K to 12 curriculum is from the current (or just discarded) curriculum. Today, because President Aquino promised, as one of the ten points in his agenda for education, that there would be “technical education in high school,” DepEd is working closely with TESDA not only in the planning, but also in the implementation of the curriculum. (To be continued)

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