K-12 will strengthen–not drop–science

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The K-12 (Kindergarten to 12) program is being designed to strengthen instruction of science in Philippine schools.

The Department of Education (DepEd) made the statement to allay fears that the curriculum revamp would adversely affect science education.

Fears of further dilution of the science program emerged after reports came out in another newspaper that DepEd would be dropping science in Grade 1 starting school year 2012-13.

The department clarified that science had not been taught as a separate subject in Grades 1 and 2 since the 1980s.

Education Secretary Armin Luistro said for 30 years now, science had only been a separate subject in public schools starting in Grade 3.

Rudimentary science concepts were embedded in the Grades 1 and 2 subjects languages, mathematics and health (under music, arts, physical education and health).

This would be retained in the revised basic education curriculum of the K-12 reform program designed to improve the quality of Filipino graduates by adding two years of senior high school to the 10-year basic education cycle.

“In effect, we are merely maintaining the status quo, which is to focus on fundamental skills, numeracy and literacy (reading and writing) during the early years,” Luistro said.

This was confirmed by Felicitas Pado, a reading and early learning expert from the University of the Philippines.

Pado said it had been a practice in teaching early grades for science to be integrated into other subjects. Science was only introduced as a separate subject in third grade.

This was the practice at the UP Integrated School, one of the best government basic education schools.

“The focus in the early grades is communication skills.  Science concepts are integrated, for instance, in reading classes,” said Pado.

In an earlier interview, Luistro explained that the new Grade 1 curriculum would have a “more enjoyable” and relatable content, with learning hours cut from six to four so that school will not tire out early learners.

The new curriculum will also focus on the mother tongue not only as a medium of instruction but also as a separate language learning area.

The use of a child’s first language has been proven to improve student scores and boost their learning curves as they move up the education ladder.

DepEd will introduce the new Grade 1 curriculum this coming school year as part of the phased implementation of K-12. It expects to graduate the first full-cycle K-12 class in 2018.

“The focus of early education (Kinder to Grade 2) should be the fundamental skills and literacy of the pupils to develop better comprehension for more complicated subjects such as science,” Luistro said.

He added that K-12 aimed to enhance science learning and teaching and make it even more relevant in the daily experience of the learners.

Sendong donations

Meanwhile, DepEd continues to receive donations for “Sendong” victims more than a month since it appealed for help for schools and students in areas devastated by the tropical storm.

DepEd has shipped to Northern Mindanao countless boxes of school supplies, clothes, food, personal hygiene products and other relief items from donors across the country.

The storm affected close to 37,000 students and almost 2,000 teachers and school officials.

“We are overwhelmed by the generosity of all those who supported our donation drive for Sendong victims in the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro,” said Tina Ganzon, DepEd communications director. “Their help has allowed us to move closer to our goal of bringing normalcy back to the lives of the victims.”

Sendong cost DepEd some P114.9 million worth of damage to school buildings, learning materials and equipment, the department’s disaster response office said in a report.

DepEd’s efforts in Northern Mindanao include post-trauma counseling for both students and teachers.

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  • Florlaca

    CHED to blame for K-12?

    “To be sure, the need for more and better science education has not been entirely ignored. But little of this attention has been aimed at post-secondary science education, the only level for which there is data showing how to make substantial improvements without enormous costs. Moreover, it is doubtful that great progress can be made at the primary and secondary levels until a higher standard of science learning is set at the post-secondary level.” (Carl Wieman, a Nobel laureate, is director of the Carl Wieman Science Education Initiative at the
    University of British Columbia)

    The controversial K-12 (kindergarten to grade 12) is not really controversial. All commentaries I have read by Filipino academic scientists are not in favor of the new k-12 program (For
    example,  “Science and K+12,” !nquirer, 6 Feb 2012).  On the other hand, Filipino authors supporting it are not natural or social scientists (without valid publications or properly published work), regardless of their position (e.g., “Group launches program to save RP education,” Inquirer, 28 Jan 2010). In particular, their views differ in the crucial science part of
    the K-12 curriculum.  

    Reasons of the scientists against the K-12 include the following: (1) The new program should first under go a trial run at selected schools before nationwide adoption; (2) there are no valid studies of local problems to support the curricular changes and additional 2 years; (3) the new program components did not consider the relevant results of international research on science education; and (4) we have more urgent problems like teachers, classrooms, textbooks, dropouts, etc.  

    Flor Lacanilao
    ——————–

  • Florlaca

    CHED to blame for K-12,  cont’d.

    Recent developments in the teaching of science have shown the importance of early (kindergarten) exposure of students to science, and the changed ways of making them learn. These are not evident in the K-12 curriculum. Examples are reported by the Nobel laureate Carl Wieman,  by Science editor and former president of the US National Academy of Sciences Bruce Alberts,  and by Columbia physics professor Brian Greene. They have been involved in research on science education, whose innovative results have been tested or are undergoing pilot tests.

    Their studies suggest a better way to improve basic education: (a) Put only the right people in charge, (b) program components should be based on tested studies abroad and on properly-published studies of local problems, and (c) undergo trial runs or verification at selected schools before nationwide implementation.

    The best candidate for verification at selected sites  or limited implementation (say one per Region) is the work of the husband-and-wife team of scientists — and recipients of the 2010 Ramon Magsaysay Award for education — Christopher and Ma Victoria Bernido  (“Poverty and scarcity are no barriers to quality education,” Inquirer, 14 Oct 2010).

    Their results included the following: (1) Bypassing the need for qualified teachers, (2) only one copy of textbook per class is needed, (3) no expensive lab equipment, (4) only 1/4 of the allotted class period is needed, and (5) students are not given homework.

    Their students, under such learning conditions, have shown marked increase in proficiency levels, especially in science, math, and reading comprehension.

    Based on the above information — and for lack of the necessary expertise to fully evaluate research information correctly on the part of those who prepared it — the new K-12 program is likely to fail, The phased implementation (starting with new Grade 1 and 1st year high in June) will not substitute for trial run. Why have we not learned in the last 5 decades from the failed programs in education?

    Flor Lacanilao
    ——————-

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