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Sister Tere, teacher reforms, K to 12

Avelina Jansen says: In the 1960s, I was Avelina Castillo when I started at ICA [Immaculate Conception Academy], a new teacher and graduate of the Ateneo de Zamboanga. Sister Tere (Sister Teresita Canivel, M.I.C.) was a religious novice and physics teacher. I taught (at ICA) for five years before pursuing graduate studies at Fordham University. Sister Tere’s passing was a painful loss. Despite her illnesses, she had miles to go, promises to keep … It was interesting to learn that Sister Tere loved bowling and swimming. Where does Sister Tere lie in rest? I want to visit her when I am in Manila next time.

My reply: I received many messages from ICA alumnae after the column appeared (April 16), and though I don’t do Facebook, I learned the column went viral, a testament to how much Sister Tere loved and was loved in return. Sister Tere was athletic when young. Sister Tere ate sensibly—possibly that was why Sister Tere’s indomitable spirit enabled her body to function even when doctors said it would stop doing so years ago.

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Sister Tere lived long enough to celebrate an event extremely important to her—the 75th anniversary of ICA. She lived long enough to ensure that ICA’s plans for K to 12 and thus, the future, were assured. Now she lies at La Loma Catholic Cemetery in Caloocan City. For details, e-mail Iza Dueñas, Sister Tere’s longtime secretary, at [email protected] or [email protected]

Finland reforms

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Angel de Dios of Georgetown University, reacting to my columns on K to 12 (Mar. 26, Apr. 2 and 9), says the program is not the best way to improve Philippine education. He refers to Pasi Sahlberg’s article “Education Policies for Raising Student Learning: The Finnish Approach” in the March 2007 issue of “Journal of Education Policy.” Finland is a world leader in education.

De Dios writes: Sahlberg enumerated seven key elements of education development, following work by other researchers. Let’s focus on the last two elements, resourcefulness and conservation. Resourcefulness is demonstrated in Finland, when “young, talented and creative individuals have been appointed … to lead schools, local education offices and central departments, guided by the belief that competencies often override routine experience. Systematic and research-based ways to prepare and continuously develop leaders and to maintain their knowledge and skills were introduced in the 1980s.”

In Finland, all teachers, including those in primary school, must have a master’s degree. Teacher preparation programs used to be three years at teachers’ colleges, but they became four or even five-year university courses in the late 1970s. “The balance between the theoretical and practical … helps young teachers master various teaching methods, as well as the science of effective teaching and learning. Curriculum reform in the mid-1990s revealed that teachers with high professional competency were quite motivated and easy to engage in school development processes in their own schools, as well as in national and international projects.”

As for conservation, we need “a balance between bringing in new innovations and employing existing good practices. The public recognizes that many needed … innovations already exist somewhere in the system.”  We “[acknowledge] teachers’ wisdom and [realize] that learning from past experiences is at least as important as introducing totally new and often alien ideas.”

Reforms began in the 1970s and took several decades. But another element is a longer vision and not instant gratification, so Finland took its time to do things right.

My reply: Last year, I wrote about Finland’s quality teachers (“Finland, Harvard and fun math,” May 23, 2011). Your ideas on the “conservation” element echo the concerns of many people, including former Ateneo president Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, S.J. (“Math mastery comes with balance of why with how,” Sept. 18, 2011).

For Sahlberg’s article, go to         http://pasisahlberg.com/downloads/Education%20policies%20for%20raising%20learning%20JEP.pdf

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Kinder in K to 12

Helen Balat says: Can a child who finishes nursery kindergarten in a small (one-room) school be admitted to grade 1 in a big school? What if the little school makes the child very much ready for grade 1 because it gives low-cost quality education, which is much better than that in many public schools with 60 or more pupils in a class?

My reply: Thank you for your e-mail but, readers, please forward K to 12 queries directly to the Department of Education’s K to 12 Secretariat at [email protected] The Secretariat says it will answer all queries as it deems fit. Below is its reply to Balat:

“In general, the answer to your question is yes. But private schools have varying admission standards so this may not be applicable to all. If you have a specific case, we can provide you more appropriate guidance. Last school year was the first major attempt by DepEd to implement universal kindergarten in all our public schools, resulting in 92 percent participation rate for the five-year-old cohort (now the required [kindergarten] age, as stipulated in Republic Act No. 10157, the Kindergarten Education Act) for school year 2011-2012, from nearly 76 percent the year before.

“Our target is 100 percent participation, given the proven efficacy of early childhood education in strengthening student performance in later years. Moreover, we have a standards-based kinder curriculum, so private schools may use it as a benchmark and upgrade their own offerings accordingly (as they do for the elementary and secondary levels).”

E-mail the author at [email protected]

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TAGS: Education, K to 12, Learning, People, Sister Tere, Sister Teresita Canivel
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