BAGUIO CITY—High school students may have realized they were missing a few teachers on the day the new school year officially opened on Monday.
Those 150 teachers were at the Teachers’ Camp here to take a weeklong crash course in a lesson plan strategy that uses theatrical techniques and other performing arts.
“Using the arts to teach something as basic as math and science has been proposed before. But now that we have more school years for elementary and high school, policy-makers are willing to give it a shot again,” said Eduardo Perez, vice president of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) committee on the dramatic arts, who led the weeklong “Sanayang Guro.”
These teachers were exposed to painting, digital film making, theatrical performances and creative writing, principally to help them in handling subjects covered by the special program in the arts (SPA), which the Bureau of Secondary Education had designed for talented and specially skilled teenagers in the provinces, Perez said.
But the sessions also allows the Department of Education (DepEd) and the NCCA to measure the teachers’ creativity, which may help them express facts about math, science and language that today’s students can comprehend, he said.
Perez is drafting a book, initially titled, “Malikhaing Guro: Pedagogy of Heritage Culture,” which advocates the use of folk art, myths and other artistic legacies of a community in presenting mathematical formulas or a scientific theory.
In the Philippine High School for the Arts, for example, teachers have been known to use details of a folk tale like “Mariang Makiling” to explore a math problem, he said.
“We can illustrate the Pythagorean Triangle by measuring the sides of Mt. Makiling, which used to be a maiden according to legend,” he said.
Adapting to the culture of today’s youths also helps teachers approach a lesson topic better, he said.
Math professor, Priscilla Supnet-Macansantos, former chancellor of the University of the Philippines Baguio, and her husband Francis Macansantos, shared writing techniques with high school teachers on Tuesday.
But they were soon engaged in a discussion about the morality and philosophy of American James Cameron’s blockbuster movie, “Avatar,” which the teachers described as an adult fable popular among students.
Perez said today’s youths engage in word play called “flip top” or “pickup lines,” which are in reality metaphors that take the place of the old Balagtasan.
“Teachers [should] know how to use [pickup lines] to [discuss a subject matter],” he said.
He said DepEd’s decision to implement a longer period for basic education, called K to 12, was meant to unearth “gray areas” on the road to improving basic education.
For example, the K to 12 program now requires DepEd and the NCCA to formulate an SPA curriculum now that high school has been converted into a four-year junior high school program (Grades 7 to 10) and a two-year senior high school program (Grades 11 to 12), Perez said.
The SPA program used to be treated as an elective, and government had no formal rules on how SPA pupils were selected, or tracking them down after graduation to see how the lessons impacted on their careers, he said.
Consulting artists and educators have already prepared a draft six-year SPA curriculum to cover changes introduced by the K to 12 program, he said.
According to Perez, an alternative teaching methodology like “Malikhaing Guro” addresses other unresolved policy issues about K to 12.
Among these issues involve the designated “mother tongue” that teachers may use in schools today because some communities insist that their dominant language is more effective, he said.
“But if we have lessons we can impart successfully [using a performance or a painting] without saying a word, wouldn’t that solve that problem?” he asked. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon